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Former Billabong chief executive Matthew Perrin, arrives at court in December  Photo: Dan Peled

Former Billabong chief executive Matthew Perrin, arrives at court in December Photo: Dan Peled

The Inertia

The former Billabong CEO was sentenced to eight years in jail for fraud and forgery last month, and he just spent his first night in jail. 

Back in 2008, Matthew Perrin did something very, very shady. Needing some serious cash to make up for his plummeting investments, he went to a bank, forged his wife’s signature, and walked away with a loan on their Gold Coast mansion. The loan was for $13.5 million, and he also decided he’d forge his brother’s signature as a witness.

Perrin, now 44, was found guilty in December of six counts of forgery and three counts of fraud after he outed himself in 2009. Last month he was convicted, and now he’s starting his eight-year prison sentence.

Billabong, of course, has been suffering for a long time now. In 2013, after reporting a massive net loss of $772 million, the company essentially announced that it was worthless. Then, last year, the announced that despite a restructuring, they dropped some bad news: a net loss just shy of $20 million US in 2016.


Ian Pollard, the Billabong International Chair said that “2016 was a challenging year for our global action sports industry.” Although the three big companies under the Billabong umbrella (Billabong, Element, and RVCA) all did alright, it wasn’t enough. “Even with the continued sales growth of our big three brands,” he continued, “operational progress and significant reductions in our costs of doing business, we reported a net loss of $23.7 million Australian dollars  ($17.5 million).”

It didn’t end there, either.  A few months ago, news broke that the company was required to pay somewhere around $45 million to pissed off investors after Billabong “engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct over a series of earnings updates.” The suit said, in a nutshell, that Billabong didn’t hold up its end of the bargain when they failed to continually disclose market information regarding the price of their shares.

The judge in Perrin’s case said that because of the “considerable evidence” against him it was “inevitable” Perrin would be found guilty. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Perrin and his ex-wife Nicole Bricknell made about $57 million from their investment in the surfwear brand.

Perrin is eligible for parole in 2020, but he is expected to launch an appeal despite the fact that he did the crime.

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