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Former James Hardie directors bans cut

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AAP

2012-11-12

Former James Hardie non-executive directors who misled investors about its asbestos compensation fund have been fined $25,000 and disqualified from serving on boards for two years.

The NSW Court of Appeal handed down the final judgment in the long-running court battle on Monday, reducing the bans and cutting the fines.

The judge of the original 2009 hearing, NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Gzell, had imposed fines of $30,000 and directorship bans of five years.

The following year the NSW Court of Appeal overturned the ruling but the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which bought the charges, appealed to the High Court.

In May the High Court found that seven former non-executive directors of the building products company misled the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) about James Hardie's compensation fund for asbestos victims.

The High Court ruling came almost a decade after the compensation fund that James Hardie had established for asbestos victims was found to be underfunded by more than $1 billion.

The NSW Court of Appeal ruled on Monday that the seven non-executive directors were disqualified from the first penalty judgment on September 4, 2009, until the Court of Appeal overturned the liability ruling on December 17, 2010.

The court then reimposed the bans on the five former non-executive directors who were living in Australia at the time of the misleading press release from the High Court ruling on May 3 until April 30 next year. They were also fined $25,000 each. .

They are former chairman Meredith Hellicar, and directors Peter Willcox, Michael Brown, Dan O'Brien and Greg Terry.

The US based directors, Michael Gillfillan and Martin Koffel, were given lighter sentences of a $20,000 fine and a ban until December 31.