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Billionaire returns top Australian award

An Australian billionaire philanthropist returned the highest civic honor awarded by his country.

Richard Pratt, who last year was fined a record $33 million after his cardboard company, Visy, was found to have been engaging in price fixing, sent back the Companion of the Order of Australia and resigned his membership in the Order.

“Mr Pratt has the highest respect for the honors system and for all its many worthy recipients,” his spokesman said. “However, given his understanding that the honors committee was considering whether he should retain his honors, he had no wish to involve the committee or the honors themselves in any form of controversy.

“Mr. Pratt’s decision will have no effect whatsoever on the philanthropic activities of the Pratt Foundation or the other many community and business activities in which his family and their company is involved.”

The Pratt Foundation donates more than $11 million a year, much of it to Jewish causes in Australia and charities in Israel.

Pratt, who is worth an estimated $5 billion, according to Business Review Weekly magazine’s annual rich list, in November donated $55,000 to the AFL Peace Team initiative by the Peres Center for Peace. He also provided $2.78 million in funding for the Park of the Australian Soldier due to open in Beersheba later this year.

Only 30 or so Australians are known to have returned their medals or have had them rescinded.

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