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Vizard refuses to answer questions citing inc -

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Vizard refuses to answer questions citing incrimination fears

Reporter: Emma Alberici

KERRY O'BRIEN: The disgraced businessman and former television comedian Steve Vizard was back in
the witness box today giving evidence for Westpac Bank in its case against former Vizard book
keeper Roy Hilliard to recoup nearly $3 million. Although Mr Vizard wasn't the accused, he had his
own lawyers, faced allegations about alleged thefts from him during the 1990s and repeatedly
refused to answer questions saying he might incriminate himself. Having yesterday waived Steve
Vizard's right to privilege against self incrimination, the judge today changed his mind, ruling
instead he would decide whether privilege could be claimed on a question by question basis. Now
with the defence team finding it increasingly difficult to have their questions answered they're
considering making an application tomorrow for a permanent stay in proceedings. Finance editor Emma
Alberici reports.

EMMA ALBERICI: Can you tell us, are you happy to be finally getting the opportunity to tell your
side of the story?

STEVE VIZARD: Yeah, I can't go into any details at the moment because it's still before the courts.

EMMA ALBERICI: Can you front us the sort of toll it's taking on you and your family.

STEVE VIZARD: I can't discuss it, it's before the court.

EMMA ALBERICI: I'm not asking you anything specifically about the trial. Can you just tell us, have
you looked forward to this day to tell your side?

STEVE VIZARD: Yes.Okay, thank you.

EMMA ALBERICI: An hour before he was due to appear in court, Steve Vizard was calling in the big
wigs. He spent the morning with Robert Richter QC, one of the country's leading criminal defence
barristers, who joined James Judd QC in trying to convince Justice Hartley Hansen to grant Steve
Vizard privilege against self incrimination. Steve Vizard now has more lawyers at the table than
the two parties to this case, and his impressive team of silks managed a win of sorts today,
relating to an admission he made to the Federal Court last year about insider trading.

STEVE VIZARD: I do look forward to being able to say something when it's the appropriate time.

EMMA ALBERICI: The Victorian Supreme Court ruled that the statement of facts he signed then not be
brought into evidence in the civil case between Westpac and Roy Hilliard. The statement spelt out
how Steve Vizard traded in shares with knowledge he gained as a Telstra director, something he'd
denied in a committal hearing in 2003. The inconsistencies between the committal and the statement
of facts also put Steve Vizard at risk of a perjury charge. You say you left Steve Vizard's employ
because you were uncomfortable with the insider trading and yet you sit back and watch, indeed
participate, in what you claim was a tax fraud.


EMMA ALBERICI: It doesn't seem to make sense, does it?

RAY HILLIARD: No, it doesn't seem to make sense. You have to understand that I went into Vizard's
employment. I was - I ... wide eyed and innocent in terms of, in terms of wanting to know, in terms
of being able to judge what was the proper thing to do.

EMMA ALBERICI: Steve Vizard is appearing as a witness for Westpac in its case against former
bookkeeper Roy Hilliard for the return of $2 million it claims he took from Steve Vizard's
accounts. The bank reimbursed its star client on the grounds that it had allowed unauthorised
cheques to be drawn against his account. An authority for Roy Hilliard to do so existed, but Steve
Vizard claims it was a forgery. Today Peter Hayes QC challenged Steve Vizard's claim, showing the
court a number of cheques for more than $10,000, signed by Roy Hilliard, for Steve Vizard's own
personal expenses. Among them was a $58,000 cheque to his mother, and a $30,000 cheque for a John
Olsen painting which Steve Vizard admitted was hung in his own lounge room, but claimed as a tax
deduction through his charitable foundation.

early 1992 you discussed with Mr Hilliard setting up a fund overseas in a recognised tax haven and
you asked him to engage Guy Jelland to advise on that matter.


PETER HAYES QC: A conference between yourself, Mr Jelland and Mr Hilliard was then set up.

STEVE VIZARD: I don't recall.

PETER HAYES QC: Mr Jelland then advised what needed to be done.


PETER HAYES QC: You then had a discussion didn't you with Mr Hilliard? You asked him what he
thought of Mr Jelland's advice and Mr Hilliard said words to the effect that he wasn't comfortable
with it, that he didn't think it was legal and you said, "What's the downside?" "We'd go to jail."
"What's the upside?" We'd get a whole lot of money overseas and we don't have to pay tax on it.

EMMA ALBERICI: The court today heard claims that in 1998, Steve Vizard, with the help of Roy
Hilliard, was attempting to minimise a big capital gains tax liability which emerged after the sale
of his half share in production company Artist Services for $5 million. Steve Vizard admitted
around 20 art works had been wrongly entered in the asset register of his tax exempt charitable
trust, but blamed Roy Hilliard for doing so.

PETER HAYES QC: Around that time you discussed with Mr Hilliard how you might set up a nest egg or
emergency fund for yourself. A supply of money no one knew about, secret from everyone and a secret
from your wife, Sarah.

STEVE VIZARD: Absolutely not.

PETER HAYES QC: You didn't want Mr Hilliard to write cash cheques from the PAS accounts because
that would be noticed.


PETER HAYES QC: I put to you that Mr Hilliard handed over cash to you - $2 million to $2.5 million
in cash and you kept it for yourself.


PETER HAYES QC: And you swore Mr Hilliard to complete secrecy.


EMMA ALBERICI: Late this afternoon, Steve Vizard was questioned about a loan account he operated
within his group of companies. The balance in the account went up from under $1 million to more
than $5 million during the period in which Steve Vizard claims Roy Hilliard was stealing his money.
Under cross examination, Steve Vizard said he couldn't explain where the money came from.
Frustrated by Steve Vizard's refusal to answer certain questions, Peter Hayes foreshadowed his
intention to call for a permanent stay of proceedings tomorrow morning.