A Jewish Australian businessman and philanthropist will go back to court to face perjury charges.
Richard Pratt is expected to appear in court next month to defend himself against charges he gave false and misleading evidence during an investigation into a price-fixing scandal in 2005.
Pratt, 73, the chairman of Visy Industries, a recycling company with 3,000 employees in America, was fined a record $34 million last year in Australia’s biggest cartel case.
He is now facing new charges brought Thursday by a consumer watchdog, although lawyer Leon Zwier says his client will “vigorously defend” himself.
Some Jewish groups have rushed to Pratt’s defense. The Peres Center for Peace and the Ajax Football Club, with which Pratt has had a long association, both issued statements in support of
the embattled businessman this week.
Last year, a transcript of a conversation between two executives of Amcor, the firm that colluded with Visy, revealed deep-seated anti-Semitic sentiments, prompting Amcor to issue an apology.
Pratt, dubbed the “cardboard king,” resigned this week from the presidency of the Carlton Football Club and returned his Order of Australia award given in February.
Australia’s fourth-richest man, he is valued at more than $5 billion. His family foundation annually donates tens of millions of dollars to charities, mainly in Australia and Israel. Most recently, it funded the Park of the Australian Soldier in Beersheba for $3 million.
Pratt faces a maximum of four years in jail if convicted. He and his parents escaped prewar Poland in 1938.