The corporate watchdog has charged former Bellamy’s director Jan Cameron over the alleged masking of her stake in the infant formula business via a mysterious Caribbean-based associate.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said on Friday it was charging the Tasmanian businesswoman, 67, with failing to disclose 14 million Bellamy’s shares she owned via Curacao-domiciled firm The Black Prince Foundation when the Launceston-based formula company went public in August 2014.
ASIC said Cameron’s 14.74 per cent stake was nearly triple the 5.0 per cent Corporations Act threshold that dictates when a person must lodge a substantial holder notice.
The watchdog also says Cameron lodged another misleading initial substantial holder notice amid an acrimonious boardroom battle at Bellamy’s in early 2017.
According to ASIC, Cameron failed to properly disclose her true and complete relationship with Black Prince, and the basis upon which she held her interest in the company.
Cameron was revealed as the controlling power behind Black Prince amid the 2017 shareholder revolt, which resulted in the removal of Bellamy’s chief executive Laura McBain and installation of two new directors aligned with Cameron.
The Tasmanian firm had been struggling through Chinese market complications and regulatory hurdles in the country.
Cameron, the founder of outdoor apparel brand Kathmandu, faces a fine, a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, or both if the charges are proven.
The case is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and a hearing is listed for a mention in Hobart Magistrates Court on March 12.
Bellamy’s was sold to the China Mengniu Dairy Company last year in a deal that netted Ms Cameron a reported $300 million.
Cameron did not publicly state whether she supported or opposed the takeover but offloaded a chunk of shares in the lead-up to the deal.
This was taken as a sign by onlookers that she would not stand in the way of the sale.