CORPORATE regulator Tony D’Aloisio bought a Yarra Valley winery from a distressed public company seven months after his appointment as Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman.

But details of the purchase were never made public because ASIC granted a special exemption to financial reporting requested by Ferrier Hodgson, administrator of the collapsed Perth-based Evans & Tate.

That exemption was granted just 39 days after administrators were appointed on August 21, 2007, and less than three months before the Oakridge winery was sold to Mr D’Aloisio and his wife Ilana Atlas. There is no suggestion Mr D’Aloisio was involved in granting the exemption order issued by ASIC.

It is unclear how much the couple paid for the business, as the 2007 accounts for Evans & Tate were never compiled and discrepancies have emerged between those lodged in later years and those before the administration.

Creditors and shareholders of the failed company were not told of Mr D’Aloisio’s involvement in the purchase of their assets and no disclosures were made to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Jeffrey Knapp, a University of NSW accounting academic, said while there might be no mischief in the ASIC chairman acquiring an asset from a listed company in financial distress, the deal raised issues about independence.

”It looks bad when ASIC issues an unusual exemption in the early days of the company’s administration, the company subsequently loses its financial records and then releases an annual financial report that is not true and fair and not in accordance with accounting standards,” he said.

ASIC special counsel Stephen Yen said Mr D’Aloisio was not involved in granting the reporting waiver.

-With IAN VERRENDER contributing