Perth Powerbrokers and the court cases that shaped 2022

It’s hard to believe that the person tasked with leading the nation’s pandemic response will be taken to court for flouting border rules.

But that’s exactly what earned high-profile businessman Nev Power an eight-month suspended sentence in March.

Power and his son Nicholas were at their family’s cattle station in Queensland when they sneaked their helicopter back to Western Australia via a luxury resort in Exmouth without completing a G2G passport or completing 14 days of isolation.

The former Fortescue boss attributed the move to “cognitive biases,” but Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Woods called it a deliberate decision that was disrespectful and foolish.

And given the lucrative board positions it’s taken power, including as chairman of Perth Airport, we think he’d agree.

Health chief faces child abuse charges

He was a senior health chief who was often pictured eating and drinking with high-ranking politicians and high-profile business leaders.

But all that changed in April when federal police announced they had charged former Joondalup Health Campus head Kempton Cowan with possessing three counts of child abuse material and one count of sending child abuse material after a raid on his home in Mosman Park to have.

A further nine charges were added in November, including seven counts of transmitting child abuse material, after examining two phones and an iPad seized during the raid.

Cowan, who ran the hospital for two decades, has not yet filed a lawsuit.

He is expected to appear in court in February.

Tech titan shut down over SMS scams

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In 2009, Zhenya Tsvetnenko, a Perth college dropout, was crowned a tech-rich lister and the state’s richest man under 40 with an estimated fortune of $107 million.

He had earned a reputation for splashing money on lavish homes and luxury cars and partying with the likes of US rapper Snoop Dog.

But the music stopped in 2015 when US authorities charged him with conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit money laundering for his involvement in a $58 million SMS subscription scam.

The founder of blockchain technology company DigitalX was sentenced to eight years in prison in June after surrendering to US authorities and agreeing to extradition.

Wright’s fight for billions continues

It’s been nearly four decades since Peter Wright, the Washington iron ore pioneer, died, but we were reminded this year that the fight for the multibillion-dollar empire is far from over.

The descendants of Peter Wright, former business partner of mining magnate Lang Hancock, were dragged before the Supreme Court in November after his son Julian urged to overturn a judgment barring him from family property.

Julian Wright before the Perth Supreme Court last year.

Julian Wright before the Perth Supreme Court last year.Credit:Philip Gostelow

In 2021, Judge Rene Le Miere found that Julian was not eligible to reclaim the one-third interest in Wright Prospecting that he had sold to his siblings in 1987.

But Julian has insisted he was tricked into taking the $6.82million deal and has fought to get his share back, which is now available thanks to licensing deals he claims he never knew existed exist, would be worth billions of dollars.

The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

Edman, Ellis and the CCC

When former Liberal MP Phil Edman texted fellow MP Brian Ellis to warn him he was being watched by the Corruption Watch, Ellis decided the best place for his phone was the sea.

The correspondence and subsequent events earned them both suspended sentences and hefty fines three years later.

Edman was handed a seven-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a $12,000 fine and a court bill of $8,263 after pleading guilty to four counts of disclosure of restricted matters and willful intent on an investigation into corruption – and had obstructed the Criminal Commission.

Ellis received two concurrent 10-month prison terms, each suspended for 10 months, and a $20,000 fine for lying under oath and destroying evidence.

The charges stemmed from a CCC investigation in 2019 over allegations that Edman used his poll money to fund visits to strip clubs and expensive “sugar baby” trips.

The investigations are ongoing.

McGurk is content with report comments

Former Community Services Minister Simone McGurk found herself on the other end of a defamation lawsuit brought by psychologist Dr. Tracy Westerman was filed against her.

The minister was quick to publicly apologize through state communications channels, which focused on comments she made at a press conference a few months earlier.

Westerman had sought aggravated damages over comments related to cultural audit reports conducted by her company Indigenous Psychological Services on the department in 2019 and 2021.

While keeping a low profile about the confidential settlement, McGurk revealed that the state had paid $16,500 in costs.

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Callan Tansill

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