Dennie Quill, Columnist
Hugh Wildman representing (he says "advising") Carlos Hill, the Cash Plus man! Wait a minute, wasn't Wildman at one time the trustee in bankruptcy seeking to recover money on behalf of persons who had invested in the alleged Ponzi scheme run by Hill?
As a layperson, I feel that something is awfully wrong with that script. But then, maybe it is precisely because I am non-lawyer why I am all chewed up over this when most people at the hearing on Monday appeared okay with this representation.
Neither the judge nor the director of public prosecutions (DPP) was reported as raising any concern about the propriety of this move. Well, I certainly am concerned. Let me declare upfront that I am not one of the roughly 45,000 who have invested in Cash Plus. However, I am troubled because I have a keen sense of justice. And in this case, something smells rotten.
According to a statement released Monday by the current trustee in bankruptcy, Celia Barclay, Mr Wildman ceased working in that role in September 2012. He was initially appointed to the position in 2009.
I am compelled to ask this: Does he have a continuing duty to the Office of Trustee in Bankruptcy to keep confident the information gathered in that role? And how can he do this and give the best 'advice' to Mr Hill?
An accused person has the right to get the best available professional help in trying to prove his innocence. Perhaps, Mr Hill feels that with Mr Wildman, he stands a good chance of securing an acquittal or lighter sentence. And for sure, he might hope to benefit from Mr Wildman's breadth of knowledge and trusteeship experience.
In the end, it is the attorney (which Wildman is now claiming he's not) who must make a decision as to whether it is appropriate or not to accept a retainer so as to place conflict-of-interest contentions safely at bay.
WILD(MAN) GOOSE CHASE
But here we have it: Mr Wildman, who a few years ago was moving every banker's till in Dubai to find what he believed to be a Cash Plus stash, now has the temerity to appear in this case on behalf of Hill. Mr Wildman claims he has received no retainer, and has been busy on the air waves justifying his action. All this on the pretext of helping Cash Plus investors get back their money! That the judge was willing to entertain him is what has stunned me.
Acting as liquidator, Mr Wildman announced at a press conference in 2011 that he had assembled a team of British lawyers to assist in recovery of these funds said to be in a Swiss bank in Dubai. As far as the public has been made aware, no funds have so far been recovered. And millions of dollars have presumably been paid out to persons for their administrative action.
So is Mr Wildman to be taken seriously when he alerted the court on Monday to the possibility of certain 'positive developments' in the case?
Another thing: Let's say the DPP wanted to lay out evidence to prove that Hill had people's money stashed away in Dubai. Would she be able to call Mr Wildman as a witness? Ridiculous, one may argue. But who is in a better position to know what happened to the billions of dollars allegedly deposited by Cash Plus investors?
An outraged friend remarked recently that the justice system had gone to the dogs. And what's worse, I countered, is that the dog is fast asleep. I am, of course, referring to the General Legal Council. If one of its core functions is to uphold standards of professional conduct and ethics, the Hill-Wildman relationship should be very high on its agenda.
Dennie Quill is a veteran journalist. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.