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Thursday, 01 November 2012

The $67,000 Question

Yesterday you may have seen Julie Bishop produce a copy of this cheque during question time.

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You have heard Ralph Blewitt's account of attending at a branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Perth and arranging for the telegraphic transfer of the proceeds of this cheque into the Slater and Gordon Trust Account.

I have today received advice from two separate people who have held Managing Partner jobs in large law firm partnerships about the process of receiving a telegraphic transfer of money into a law firm's trust account and properly applying that money to its intended purpose.

I have confirmed that advice given to me with one further now retired managing partner of a firm who verbally agreed.

I am told that the bank's telegraphic transfer information includes the amount deposited into the law firm's trust account and the drawer of the cheque presented at the bank branch.

The task is then for a partner in the law firm to identify to which file, or client the proceeds of the cheque ought to be directed.   There is, I am told no further instruction from the TT forwarding bank - that is the information transmitted was the amount, the account into which the funds were directed (in this case the Slater and Gordon Trust Account) and the drawer on the cheque presented at the branch (in this case the Australian Workers' Union Workplace Reform Association).

Given that telegraphic tranfers could reasonably be expected to arrive in a law firm's trust account relatively regularly, it does seem prudent that a partner's authority would be required to direct the funds towards a particular client's purpose, once the money was in the account.   That task of allocating the funds was not done automatically by direction of the TT'ing bank, rather the bank forwarded the amount, the drawer and the target account.

A partner needed to sign off in the case of the $67,722.30 that arrived in the Slater and Gordon Trust Account before that money could be applied to Blewitt's purchase of 1/85 Kerr Street.   Ms Gillard seems to have been the supervising partner in this transaction.

What I've been told here gels with Ian Cambridge's scholarly account of the banking affairs in The AWU Scandal as set out in his affidavit.

I'd appreciate your comments please.



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