Blake Dawson slated for HIH relationship

Australian firm Blake Dawson Waldron and its former partner and HIH director Charles Abbott are two of many parties featuring in the final submission presented by the HIH royal commission lawyers last Monday

The submission said that the payment of $1m (£622.7m) to Blake Dawson the day before the collapse of the insurance giant, “occurred in extraordinary circumstances”. Blake Dawson has since repaid the money with interest.

The submission claims that the payment was arranged on 14 March, the day before HIH went into liquidation, after a lunch-time meeting between Abbot and accounting firm KPMG, which was later appointed liquidator.

“Although there is no express evidence of what was discussed, it is submitted that in the circumstances, it is likely that the insolvency of HIH… would have been the main topic of discussion,” the submission said.

The submission also claimed that on the afternoon of 14 March, Abbott issued a $180,000 (£112,100) invoice to HIH for his services to the board. He then sent an HIH clerk by train to North Sydney to clear the cheque at the last branch left open that day.

The submission examined the relationship between Blake Dawson and Abbott, who was appointed to the HIH board in 1995. It said that not only did Abbott have a declared $25,000 (£15,500) per annum retainer with Blake Dawson, but he also had an undeclared arrangement that paid him 10 per cent of any business he generated for it.

The submission said: “He consistently promoted the firm in accordance with his consultancy agreement. It is submitted that Abbott's conduct in doing so involved or contributed to undesirable corporate governance.”

Blake Dawson declined to comment.