Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in the US has siphoned off $4.5 billion of cash and shares from his Australian media businesses in the past two years, virtually tax free.Guide to Accounting Standards. Both expressed concerns about aspects of the News Australia accounting practices.
News Corp ceased producing “general purpose” financial reports in 2006.
Asked whether News should be producing general purpose accounts, Professor Walker said: “It’s plainly anomalous that local subsidiaries of major multinational corporations can themselves decide they are not ‘reporting entities’ – and hence that they don’t have to comply with all Australian accounting standards.
“The test is whether there are any users who might rely on published financial statements to make, or to evaluate, economic decisions. If directors say that some large proprietary companies are not ‘reporting entities’, they are ignoring the legitimate interests of employees, employees’ representatives, creditors, and the Australian Tax Office.
The Corporations Act should address this shortcoming.”
Breaking down the $4.5 billion in cash and shares transferred offshore, $1.3 billion in cash was transferred in 2014 and subsidiaries holding $1.9 billion in cash were transferred in 2013. The rest was shares.
Besides the questionable level of disclosure, there are a number of accounting irregularities in the News Australia Holdings accounts, including the strange claim that various subsidiaries of the company do not have to file financial statements because they are entitled to class order relief from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.
This is not the case, according to Mr Shanahan.
“To gain this relief, all the companies covered [by the class order] must be wholly-owned by News Australia Holdings and covered by a cross-guarantee of indebtedness,” he said.
News Australia Holdings does not own any shares in 20 subsidiaries. The New York parent News Corp and other offshore entities are the shareholders. They are not party to the deed of cross guarantee. Therefore News Corporation presents in the accounts of News Australia Holdings as being, at the same time, non-controlling and controlling shareholder.