Australia

Alan Bond: Disgraced Australian entrepreneur dies aged 77

Alan Bond leaves a Western Australian court in a police van in 1996 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alan Bond was one of Australia's most colourful and controversial businessmen

Controversial Australian businessman Alan Bond has died at the age of 77, his family have announced.

Mr Bond died on Friday morning at the Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth days after undergoing heart surgery.

Mr Bond, who was born in the UK, became one of Australia's richest men, funding Australia's shock win of the America's Cup yachting race in 1983.

But he fell from grace in 1996 when found guilty of Australia's then biggest corporate fraud.

His children John Bond and Jody Fewster, speaking outside Fiona Stanley Hospital, said he had died earlier that morning. He had been in a coma since his heart surgery three days ago.

'Larger than life'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Years after being jailed for fraud, Bond (centre) was still lauded by some for his America's Cup win

His body "finally gave out after heroic efforts of everyone involved here at the intensive care unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital," John Bond said.

Mr Bond paid tribute to his father, saying that to a lot of people, he was a "larger-than-life character" who started with nothing and rose to the heights of corporate Australia.

"He really did experience the highs and lows of life," said his son.

"To us, however, he was just Dad - a father who tried his best to be the best dad he could."


Alan Bond: Colourful character's fall from grace

Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand and equipped with a novel winged keel, sailed into national folklore when it grabbed the cup away from the prestigious New York Yacht Club, breaking the longest winning streak - 132 years - in sporting history.

Most Australians had never heard of the America's Cup. But the victory sparked massive celebration across the country and Bertrand was welcomed home with a ticker tape parade.

But it was Alan Bond who made it all possible.

At the time one of Australia's richest men, he bankrolled the Antipodeans' fourth bid to beat the Americans, and Australians loved him for it.


Bankrupt

Mr Bond shot to public acclaim in Australia in 1983 after he bankrolled what would be the country's successful challenge of the coveted America's Cup yachting race.

But a decade later, the man dubbed Australian of the Year in 1978, fell spectacularly from grace.

In 1992 he was declared bankrupt, with personal debts totalling A$1.8 billion ($1.4bn;£900m).

He was jailed in 1997 for what would be described as Australia's biggest case of corporate fraud.

In Western Australia (WA), where his corporate collapse had the most impact on investors who lost money, not everyone remembers him favourably.

'Reputational damage'

Few were willing on Friday to go on the record with their views. However, the Australian Financial Review quoted several business people who knew him well remembering how he had angered many with his "jet-set lifestyle" after investors were left with just half a cent in the dollar from his company's collapse.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said Bond was "a controversial figure but will also be remembered for a proud moment in Australia's history, which also put Western Australia on the map".

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said Bond had been a colourful character, but had caused "a lot of reputational damage to Australia".

"Frankly he left a number of positive legacies but there were a lot of tears along the way," he told Radio 2GB.

Many harsh comments about Mr Bond's business dealings were also posted on Twitter.

Mr Bond is survived by his ex-wife Eileen and three of his children, John, Craig and Jody.

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