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$4.5 million brawl over Afterpay (ASX:APT) options settled

Two political lobbying heavyweights fight it out over lucrative proceeds from a stake in the buy now, pay later provider.
The post $4.5 million brawl over Afterpay (ASX:APT) options settled appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

A secret $4.5 million fight over the fate of Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) options has reportedly been settled out of court.

According to The Australian, the dispute involved some of the biggest names in political lobbying: David Gazard, who is a close advisor and friend to prime minister Scott Morrison, and Jonathan Epstein.

The two men, along with former treasurer and now Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) chair Peter Costello, 10 years ago started a lobbying firm ECG Advisory.

After Costello left the partnership 3 years later, Gazard and Epstein gained Afterpay as a client.

One of the perks of that deal was reportedly share options in the buy now, pay later provider.

Was there an agreement or was there no deal?

The problem was that the 60,000 shares were due to be handed out within the framework of an employee incentive plan. This meant that they could not be issued to ECG, but had to be in the name of an individual.

There was allegedly an agreement that they would be issued under Gazard’s name to be held on behalf of ECG, The Australian reported.

Epstein left the firm in late 2019, but has accused Gazard of pocketing the $4.5 million proceeds from selling the options in October 2020. 

“The acknowledgement and agreement of Epstein, Gazard and ECG was partly in writing, partly oral and partly to be inferred,” read the statement of claim from Gazard’s lawyers.

In his defence, Gazard claimed there was never an agreement that he would hold options on trust for ECG.

He also claimed that the options were issued after Epstein departed and that he provided services to Afterpay through another business named DPG Advisory Solutions.

The details of the dispute had been confidential until now.

“Avoiding a potentially embarrassing and awkward court case that would have thrown open the inner workings of one of Australia’s most connected and influential lobby firms, Mr Gazard and Mr Epstein settled out of court recently through mediation,” reported The Australian.

Both Gazard and Epstein declined to comment to the newspaper.

The post $4.5 million brawl over Afterpay (ASX:APT) options settled appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns and has recommended AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool Australia owns and has recommended AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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