Euro Pacific Bank (EPB) owner Peter Schiff won his defamation lawsuit against the Australian franchise of the television show 60 Minutes, a vindication for the banker who has been maintaining he was maligned by the program in a so-called “gotcha interview.”
In a 48-page decision, the Federal Court of Australia found guilty the 60 Minutes Australia producer Nine Network, reporter Nicholas McKenzie, and producers Charlotte Grieve and Joel Tozer of publishing and conveying seven imputations which are defamatory about Schiff and EPB. The case relates to the show’s broadcast on October 18, 2020.
“Specifically, the judge found that these defendants defamed Schiff and his bank in seven specific defamatory imputations, such as ‘permitting his bank, Euro Pacific, to be used as a vehicle for around one hundred Australian customers to commit tax evasion,’ and that Schiff, himself, ‘committed tax fraud,'” said Schiff in a statement, citing the ruling.
Lanny J. Davis, Schiff’s counsel, reiterated that these imputations are false and “no criminal charge was ever brought against Schiff or anyone connected to the bank.”
Schiff said that the next step would be the court’s decision on the amount of damages, which he is asserting would be “substantial.”
In relation to the court victory, Davis also called out the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner to hand down a disciplinary action on Chief Criminal Enforcement Agent James Lee, who used the same false imputations relayed on the 60 Minutes episode in a June 2022 press conference in Puerto Rico.
Schiff is also calling out The New York Times for publishing an article with the same tenor from the Australian program.
The Australian court judgement follows the agreement reached between Schiff and Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions on the liquidation plan for EPB. The arrangement entails transferring “all customer deposits, cash, and physical precious metals, as well as ownership of the bank’s four wholly owned subsidiaries, to Qenta, a U.S. based global financial services and technology company.”
But this doesn’t mean that Schiff is pushing through without registering the treatment he and his bank received from the Puerto Rico regulators. His camp maintains that while the liquidation agreement is a nod in the right direction, it is happening despite no official charges on wrongdoing were handed down to cause the bank to close.
He added that “despite claims to the contrary, and the bank being put into receivership, the bank always had enough cash and cash equivalent reserves to cover all deposits.”
“Depositors were always safe with their money in EPB… Plus, the bank made no loans, so EPB had sufficient capital to operate,” Schiff maintained.
Nevertheless, it would still take time for the bank customers to get their deposits back, and the banker is working on returning it all “as promised.”
At the end of the day, winning the defamation case is a clear redemption arc for the embattled Schiff.
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