Bond agrees to appear before bankruptcy examination: Lawyers drop claims that the fallen Australian tycoon is unfit for court after suffering depression and brain damage

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The Independent Online
AFTER months of delay, during which he claimed that he was suffering from brain damage, depression and a fallen IQ, Alan Bond, the bankrupt Australian tycoon, changed his mind yesterday and agreed to appear before an examination of his bankruptcy.

Mr Bond, 55, who once controlled an international brewing, media and property empire, has been fighting an order to undergo an examination by his trustee in bankruptcy and by the liquidator of his former private company, Dallhold Investments. Once one of Australia's richest men, with a personal fortune estimated at Adollars 350m (pounds 175m), Mr Bond was declared bankrupt two years ago. Mr Bond has personal debts estimated at Adollars 500m. His large legal bills and travel expenses appear to be met by family and friends.

Robert Ramsay, the bankruptcy trustee, is seeking to locate the whereabouts of Mr Bond's assets in order to pay creditors. A week ago, Mr Bond's lawyers told the Federal Court that he did not have the mental capacity to appear before the bankruptcy examination. They said he had suffered brain damage caused by open-heart surgery in February 1993, and his IQ had fallen from a 'superior/very superior' level to less than average. His concentration, memory and speech were also impaired.

Mr Justice Ian Sheppard challenged their arguments, and said Mr Bond was sufficiently well to be able to maintain a solicitor and a counsel. In February, Mr Bond's counsel presented the judge with a psychiatric report that claimed that Mr Bond had become overwhelmed by his legal and personal problems, the collapse of his marriage and the loss of his empire, and had been in a state of severe depression for a year. At that time, Mr Bond had been admitted to a private hospital in his home city of Perth, where he was being treated with Prozac, an anti-depressant.

The report by a Perth psychiatrist said: 'He cries more often than previously and is persistently irritable and annoyed. He has lost interest in social activities and has greater difficulty in making decisions than previously . . . He has also associated significant short-term memory difficulties. His irritation has extended into agitation and rage and he has lost his temper a number of times. He repeatedly feels that he is unable to go on.'

When the Federal Court assembled yesterday, expecting to hear more evidence from medical experts about Mr Bond's mental state, Michael Barnett, his counsel, made a surprise announcement that Mr Bond had changed his mind and was now prepared to undergo the bankruptcy examination. He said that enough had been published about Mr Bond's intimate personal and private details, and that he wanted to spare his family and friends further 'close scrutiny'. He also wanted to avoid further costs to himself and his liquidator and to make it clear that he had no wish to avoid scrutiny of his public affairs.

Mr Bond is now due to appear before the examination next month to answer wide-ranging questions about his business dealings in the 1980s.

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