New court filings have revealed former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was allowed to sell $17 million in shares days after the airline supplied details on cancelled flights to the ACCC.
As reported in The Australian Financial Review, Joyce (pictured) offloaded the shares – representing more than 90 per cent of his stake in Qantas – three days after the Flying Kangaroo turned over to the consumer watchdog information on more than 10,000 cancelled flights.
According to the documents, which were filed in the Federal Court by the ACCC’s law firm Baker McKenzie this week, Qantas gave the ACCC a spreadsheet on May 29 containing details of the flights on which the court action is now centred, with many later excluded due to the customers having been informed within two days.
Sources told the Financial Review that Joyce’s shares, purchased for $1.50 apiece in 2012, sold for $6.74 each through ANZ on 1 June, netting the outgoing Qantas CEO around $14.8 million. Joyce still owned many shares in the Flying Kangaroo and had rights to more including a retention bonus given to him during the pandemic.
The ACCC had requested the cancellation data in September last year, with compulsory information notices sent to Qantas on 26 April. Directors are not prohibited from trading shares unless they are doing so in response to undisclosed information that they are aware will affect the stock price.
The issue of Joyce’s stock sell-off was raised at the airline’s acrimonious AGM on Friday, with chairman Richard Goyder ordering shareholder Chris Maxworthy’s microphone turned off for raising questions on the subject, which was met with cries of “shame on you”.
Writing in the Financial Review, Maxworthy urged the board to claw back some of Joyce’s bonuses as part of “rebuilding Qantas’ social licence”.
“Up to $16 million of Joyce’s recent performance incentives are within the board’s control to claw back now. If the board wants to restore the airline’s reputation, then a starting point would be to repudiate a large portion of these bonus incentives,” he said.
“In the court of public opinion, that would receive strong backing, and show that the board is now more in tune with the real spirit of Australia.”
A spokesperson for Qantas previously told the Financial Review that several recent ACCC investigations “have included compulsory information notices and which have not resulted in any adverse findings”.
“As recently as August 28, the ACCC told Qantas in writing that it was still finalising its investigation. The first time this issue crystallised into legal action was when it was announced by the ACCC on August 31,” the spokesperson said.