insider trades outside for inside - 30th May 2003
Sydney Morning Herald)
a businessmen he kept the usual company. As an individual
he kept some unusual company. Kate Askew writes about
the demise of Sydney's most successful business self-publicist.
are places where hard men, soft principles and a black
disregard for human existence make winners out of
losers. These are not the sort of attributes likely
in white-collar criminals bound for a life behind
bars. Yet some of the people the eccentric stockbroker
Rene Rivkin associated with during the past decade
may have given him a valuable insight into the underworld
into which he is about to sink.
in the Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy sentenced
Rivkin to nine months of periodic detention.
best mate, the former Labor politician Graham Richardson,
told the court during a pre-sentencing submission
that Rivkin had helped many people during his life.
One of those, Richardson said, was a man who had got
out of jail and whom Rivkin had helped get on his
he have meant Nathan Jones, nickname the Colossus
of Boggo Road, briefly Rivkin's former minder? After
Jones's release from the Brisbane prison, Rivkin set
him and his wife and stepchild up in an Alexandria
apartment, took him to see Jeff Fenech to gauge his
talent as a boxer, arranged a chat with the agent
Harry M. Miller, and put him through a computer course.
Hopefully Rivkin managed to get some tips about life
in the clink in return.
about his social preferences by The Sunday Age in
1994, Rivkin acknowledged that he enjoyed the company
of people who were younger than himself. He had been
spending a good deal of time in a Potts Point coffee
shop: "I have been adopted by the people there,
who are from all walks of life. Some of them are plumbers;
some of them are unemployed. One is a tattooist."
there was an array of people in attendance for Rivkin's
most recent courtroom stint who were not the usual
types who attend the Supreme Court of NSW.
first date for Rivkin's submissions - postponed due
to a delay in getting a psychiatric assessment - saw
a trio who had obviously seen hard times: one woman
wore sandals and carried copious plastic bags, and
was accompanied by a pitifully thin female with bedraggled
hair and a male friend dressed in the jacket of a
volunteer to the 2000 Paralympic Games. They approached
Rivkin after the matter was adjourned to offer their
support. Rivkin clearly was acquainted with the individuals
and thanked them.
woman carrying the plastic bags waited for Rivkin
outside the courtroom yesterday after his sentencing.
Inside, as the sentence was handed down, another woman
yelled from the court balcony, "Shame on you
[the court], the country still loves you [Rivkin]."
58, Rivkin was born in Shanghai to White Russian parents
who were migrating east after World War II. He attended
Rose Bay Public School and Sydney Boys' High School
before studying law at Sydney University. But the
self-confessed "trading addict" moved into
stockbroking after completing his degree. He has owned
several stockbroking firms and publishes the stockmarket
tipsheet The Rivkin Report.
his halcyon years as Sydney's most visible financial
entrepreneur, he was a promoter's dream with his trademarks
cigar and worry beads. And he garnered a reputation
for kindness to friends as well as strangers. In 1997
Rivkin bought a bright yellow Ferrari for Joe Elcham,
former owner of Joe's Cafe in Kings Cross. The gift
followed the Casino Control Authority's rejection
of Elcham's application to be a shareholder in Rivkin's
Cave nightclub, which it had been planned Elcham would
was knocked back, I'm not approved, I'm not part of
the Cave and they took that away from me with one
mighty swoop; the almighty Casino Control Authority,"
Elcham told The Sun-Herald in 1998.
should be noted that Elcham arranged for John "Serpico"
Deerfield, the former undercover policeman working
in drugs and gaming who turned whistleblower, to meet
Rivkin after the departure of his personal assistant
Gordon Woods, according to the same report. (Woods's
girlfriend, Caroline Byrne, was found dead at the
bottom of the famed Sydney suicide spot, The Gap,
resulting in a police investigation. There has never
been any suggestion that Rivkin was in any way connected
with the death.)
was Elcham, Deerfield, former business partner Nigel
Littlewood, Rivkin's helicopter pilot, George Freris,
and Simon Main (Barry Crocker's stepson), among others,
who travelled with Rivkin on a 1997 all-expenses paid
European holiday, Deerfield told the Sun-Herald.
fact, Rivkin has all but disappeared from the conventional
business social scene in recent years. He still hosts
lunches on his luxury motor yacht - Dajoshadita, the
name an amalgam of his five children's names - and
is generous in making it available for charity events.
Nevertheless, when push came to shove, an array of
high-profile people were willing to stand up and be
counted as Rivkin's friends.
who made submissions before Rivkin's sentencing yesterday
included the TV personality Ray Martin, radio host
Alan Jones, former newsreader and now charity chief
Gina Boon, Trevor Kennedy, Kerry Packer's one-time
offsider, and property developer John Boyd.
factional warrior and federal MP Laurie Brereton also
provided a written submission, despite the fact that
they had not spent much time in each other's company
in recent years.
gave a light-hearted performance in the witness box
while the Australian Olympic Committee head, John
Coates, also spoke.
chose to put it down on paper: "I write in relation
to Mr Rene Rivkin whom I have known for a long time.
I can honestly say I have rarely met a more compassionate,
committed and caring person.
I was coach of the Australian rugby side and the rugby
team at Oxford University, I piloted a scheme to assist
young Australians of academic and sporting ability
to study at Oxford. Rene Rivkin personally funded
some of those who went, as did I. He did more than
fund them. He met them, followed their progress and
subsequently employed two of them."
was equally as effusive: "I know him to be honest,
ethical and a man who quite strictly observes the
parameters of Australian society. Therefore, I find
Mr Rivkin's behaviour, as reflected by the recent
court verdict which found him guilty of insider trading,
perplexing and out of character.
my capacity as host of countless charity and fundraising
events, I have found Rene Rivkin to be uncommonly
generous in his personal and financial support of
disadvantaged people. Frankly, I do not know of any
Australian public figure more compassionate and more
touched upon Rivkin's family life, saying he had known
the stockbroker, his wife and their five children
as a happy family whose company his own family enjoyed.
that I have known Rene for so long I feel qualified
to vouch unreservedly as to his good character. While
he is personally eccentric and sometimes voluble such
should not distract from the fact that he is a very
good man," Brereton said.
fact, it was Rivkin's wife of 31 years, Gayle, who
made the most surprising observations about her husband.
said Rivkin had been unbearable to live with since
the jury's guilty verdict. "It's a nightmare
I can't wake out of," she told the court on Monday.
manic episodes - diagnosed by a medical expert for
Rivkin's sentencing - have long been a factor in upheavals
in his life. It was this "unbearable" side
to his personality that caused a rift in his stockbroking
business in the late '80s. Rivkin fled briefly to
London with his family after the split with his then
partners. His client list at the time was blue chip:
Kerry Packer, Sir Peter Abeles, Lee Ming Tee and Alan
the same medical expert suggested that Rivkin take
less Prozac, as it was probably worsening his manic
episodes. He also noted that Rivkin had not sought
help for his mental condition for 10 years.
it has been Rivkin's manic depression that has been
on the tip of everyone's tongue for the last couple
of months. "He won't speak to anyone, even his
wife, when he's in a big depression," Richardson
told the Herald after the jury's verdict had been
is without doubt is the fact that Rivkin is a publicity
junkie. He regularly uses his situation to generate
publicity. Straight after the jury's verdict he spent
two hours on Richardson's radio program. An earlier
interview with the ABC's Andrew Denton was aired after
the verdict. Rivkin did not hold back during the wide-ranging
other things he gave his candid view of what he thought
was the complicated relationship between James and
Kerry Packer, a move unlikely to win him an invitation
back into the Packer family's purple circle.
said: "One day I get a phone call: 'I'm sending
my f---ing son over and I want you to lose him some
f---ing money on the stockmarket so he understands
the f---ing value of the f---ing dollar.' " Rivkin
will again star on Denton's program, Enough Rope,
next Monday in a follow-up post-sentencing interview.
he turn periodic detention to his advantage? Of course
he could also show a little shame.
Sydney Morning Herald