The Qantas board has authorized its CEO Alan Joyce to sell a $17 million tranche of shares – despite two requests for information from Australia’s consumer watchdog over the sale of thousands of tickets on flights already canceled.
Alan Joyce sold more than 90 per cent of his shares in the company while he was CEO on June 1 – five weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) twice requested documents as part of his investigation. the australian financial review reported.
The first application was filed on September 14 last year and the second on April 26.
The $17 million sale was finalized as the ACCC completed its investigation into the airline selling tickets on 8,000 flights already canceled during the year. pandemic.
Qantas now faces a $250 million fine after the ACCC took legal action in the Federal Court.
Former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (pictured center with Anthony Albanese and Jodie Haydon) has sold more than 90 per cent of his shares in the company weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called for documents for an active investigation.
The ACCC requested the information on April 26 this year, the second time it had requested documents, before Mr Joyce sold $17 million worth of shares on June 1.
These requests for information were made in response to a large number of customer complaints the ACCC has received from aggrieved travellers, a source told AFR.
Qantas is one of the most criticized companies in Australia.
The notices are not publicly available, but they allow the company to know the nature of the investigation to which they relate.
During these investigations, companies are not allowed to publicly discuss matters concerning them until charges are filed.
There are no rules preventing employees like Mr. Joyce from selling stock during investigations unless they act on information they know will affect the stock price.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting that ACCC investigations could be disclosed: during an investigation, companies are not allowed to publicly discuss the matter until the regulator takes action.
Even if the ACCC succeeds in imposing fines of $250 million, as it has indicated, the amount would likely not be material to the Qantas share price.
There are also no rules preventing directors from buying or selling shares unless they act on information they know is material to the company’s share price. a company and which have not been disclosed.
The former CEO, who left the company on September 6, faced considerable backlash for selling the shares when he did.
Qantas investors have expressed fury at Mr Joyce’s sale of his shares to market highs for $6.74 each.
Some said it would have been more appropriate if the embattled boss had held on to them until he left his post earlier this month.
The $17 million sale wouldn’t have been as glamorous if he had, as Qantas shares closed at $5.61 on Friday.
Mr Joyce left the airliner two months earlier than originally planned and since the move they have been surrounded by controversy.
Aggrieved investors said the disgraced former CEO should have held on to the shares until he left the company on September 6.
The ACCC investigation found Qantas sold fraudulent tickets for 8,000 already canceled flights to keep slots at Sydney Airport.
A Qantas spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they were aware the ACCC had conducted a “number of investigations” into the company’s dealings and confirmed they had requested information on several occasions .
None of these requests resulted in “adverse conclusions,” the spokesperson added.
“As recently as August 28, the ACCC stated in writing to Qantas that it was still finalizing its investigation. The first time this issue crystallized into legal action was when it was announced by the ACCC on August 31,” they said.
The first request came in September 2022 and the second in April 2023 which varied on June 16.
The discrepancy reportedly followed a discussion between lawyers for the ACCC and Qantas over whether the company had provided all documents relating to the April application or whether it needed more time to provide them.
The April notice came as the regulator began to increase its control over slot management at Sydney Airport.
In its final report on the matter, the ACCC alleged that Qantas had hoarded slots and began legal action against the company.
ACCC chair Gina Cass Gottlieb linked the cancellations to Qantas’ desire to retain slots at the expense of thousands of passengers who were duped into purchasing fraudulent tickets.
“We allege that Qantas made many of these cancellations for reasons that were within its control, such as network optimization, including in response to changing consumer demand, route withdrawals or maintaining take-off and landing slots at certain airports,” Ms Gottlieb said. .
“However, this matter does not involve any alleged violation in relation to the actual cancellation of the flights, but rather concerns the conduct of Qantas following the cancellation of the flights.”