One of Australia’s richest men has been caught discussing how he uses his vast wealth to buy power and influence across the world — including funneling money to Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch who are “like mafia”.
Multi-billionaire Anthony Pratt, has former prime ministers Paul Keating and Tony Abbott on the payroll, paying each vast “retainers” of thousands of dollars a month, it has further emerged.
The revelations are contained in secret recordings of Pratt and in “internal company documents” obtained by Nine Entertainment’s 60 Minutes, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age.
The revelations come as US security agencies and authorities are circling.
Pratt has been interviewed at least twice by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is listed as a potential witness in one of two criminal cases against former US President Donald Trump.
Two weeks ago US ABC News revealed explosive allegations that Trump, in April 2021, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, told Pratt US nuclear submarine secrets, including how close they could get to Russian submarines without detection.
Pratt allegedly shared the information — which also included how many warheads the US nuclear vessels routinely carry — with “at least 45 others”, including “six journalists”, “ten Australian officials” and “three former Australian Prime Ministers”.
The latest revelations, which were aired last night and this morning by Nine, and are making headlines worldwide, show how Pratt uses his vast wealth to gain influence and help bend the rules in his favour.
It has been revealed Pratt has former ALP Prime Minister Keating on a “retainer” of $25,000 a month, or $300,000 a year, and that he pays former Liberal Prime Minister Abbott $8,000 a month on a similar basis.
“In 2022, Pratt budgeted $1.2 million to pay his in-house government affairs and political adviser, Richard Dowdy, who is a former Abbott staffer,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Pratt is also one of the biggest “donors” to Australia’s two biggest political parties.
In covert recordings — of undisclosed origin — Pratt describes Trump, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch as “like mafia”.
“All of these guys are like the mafia, Trump, Rupert, Rudy,” says Pratt.
“All of these guys are like the mafia, Trump, Rupert, Rudy” — Anthony Pratt
“You want to be a customer not a competitor. And I am very aware of that”.
Pratt is a big “customer” of all three.
After Trump won the 2016 US election Pratt became a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, for a reported $200,000.
US prosecutors have been told Pratt also allegedly spent US$1m ($1.58m) on tickets to a Mar-a-Lago New Years Eve event when tickets “actually cost US$50,000 ($79,200) or less”.
In the recordings Pratt says he paid Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and a former New York mayor, “about a million bucks” to attend his 60th birthday party in Melbourne 2020.
The party was cancelled because of Covid-19 lockdowns, “so now he (Giuliani) rings me once a week”, says Pratt.
“To cut a long story short I paid him about a million bucks to come out as like a celebrity guest and um, it didn’t happen so now he rings me once a week”.
Both Trump and Giuliani were this year criminally charged with subverting the 2020 US presidential election.
Pratt gives large amounts of money to major Australian commercial media outlets News Corporation and Nine Entertainment, including via direct advertising, the publishing of “special features”, and by conducting “special events” such as Pratt’s “Global Food Forum”.
“Pratt’s cultivation of the media is… canvassed in the tape recordings, with the billionaire describing how he had pulled his $730,000 sponsorship package of Sky News programs hosted by Sharri Markson and Alan Jones after (Anthony) Albanese and (Joe) Biden had been elected,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“I’m a big sponsor of Sky, we are the wallpaper of Canberra,” Pratt reportedly says.
“I was Sharri’s big sponsor. I’m not any more because as soon as Biden and Albanese got in, I told Sky I only want to sponsor Sky in the afternoon, none of the talk shows, because it’s too right-wing,” says Pratt.
“I told Sky I only want to sponsor Sky in the afternoon…because it’s too right-wing” — Anthony Pratt
Sky, which is Australia’s least trusted media outlet according to pollster Roy Morgan, produces highly biased “right-wing” political content.
In 2020 it was banned for two-weeks by Google’s YouTube for spreading misinformation, including regarding sham Covid-19 remedies.
“Pratt has advertised in, or run conferences on superannuation, recycling and his Global Food Forum with The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review, which are owned by Nine Entertainment,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“He has also run advertisements and events with News Corp publications The Australian and The Wall Street Journal for his Global Food Forum”.
Pratt also cultivated the UK’s King Charles.
“King Charles is another powerful figure Pratt has cultivated – while he was a prince – with documents listing a “final payment” to “HRH” [His Royal Highness] of $182,000 in 2021,” Nine reports.
In the recordings, regarding Charles, Pratt says: “What I’m trying to do is to network with people that can be useful”.
“Prince Charles said, when he introduced me to Camilla, ‘he’s been very useful’. And I thought, ‘well that’s an insult’. But then I thought, ‘oh no, it’s better than being irrelevant’,” says Pratt.
“My superpower is that I’m rich”.
“My superpower is that I’m rich” – Anthony Pratt
Pratt has reportedly been interviewed at least twice by the FBI.
The Australian multi-billionaire is “listed as a potential witness who could testify against Trump at a criminal trial next year”, reports the New York Times.
US special counsel Jack Smith has brought two criminal cases against Trump.
Classified documents stored in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago. Source: US Department of Justice
In the one relating to Pratt, Trump has been charged with taking classified documents when he left the White House and obstructing efforts to retrieve them.
“In his interviews with prosecutors, Mr Pratt recounted how Mr Trump once revealed to him sensitive information about American nuclear submarines, an episode that Mr. Trump denies,” reports The New York Times.
Analysis by The Washington Post shows Trump made 30,573 “false or misleading claims” during his four years as US President.
Giuliani has been charged with conspiring with Trump and others to subvert the results of the 2020 US election.
Regarding the Giuliani and Trump’s attempts to stop Biden becoming US President Pratt states: “It’s not all just seat-of-the-pants shit, I think that him [Trump] and Rudy are like that, and they are plotting all this out”.
The recordings, “internal documents from Pratt’s company Visy” and “briefings from over a dozen sources in the United States and Australia”, reveal how Pratt “uses relationships with powerful figures to obtain an advantage in global business and politics,” Nine reports.
Pratt has made no comment since the scandal broke on October 6, despite repeated approaches from media.
Pratt (left) with Scott Morrison and Trump. Source: SBS News
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his office did not respond to questions put to them by The Klaxon two weeks ago.
Keating told Nine said his advice to Pratt was “limited to big picture issues of the international kind”, while Abbott did not respond to requests for comment.
“I do not advise Mr Pratt on commercial matters in Australia or abroad [or] … on government matters in Australia that may be relevant to him or his company. My advice is limited to big picture issues of the international kind,” Keating said.
Internal Visy documents showed the $8,000 a month payments to Abbott began “after his hiring in June 2019”.
In the recordings Pratt said he had donated $1m to the Voice referendum “Yes” campaign after a request from a senior advisor to Albanese, Nine reports.
In the recordings Pratt says he rode in Trump’s presidential motorcade in December 2019.
Billionaire Anthony Pratt. Source: Wikidata
Pratt says during the ride Trump discussed an Iraq airstrike he had ordered shortly before, and a discussion Trump said he had with the then Iraqi leader.
“He (Trump) said, ‘I just bombed Iraq today and the president of Iraq called me up and said, you just leveled my city,” Pratt says.
“And he (Trump) said, ‘I said to him, OK, what are you going to do about it?’”
In the recordings Pratt says Trump also discussed a phone call he had with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier in 2019, where Trump pressured Zelensky investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
The Zelensky phone call was a key factor in Trump’s first impeachment.
“That was nothing compared to what I usually do,” Trump said regarding that call, according to Pratt.
Pratt joined Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April 2021, three months after he left the presidency.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Source: Wikipedia
The pair had a discussion in Trump’s office, during which Pratt “suggested that Australia should purchase submarines from the United States,” reports The New York Times.
“That prompted Mr. Trump to lean in, as if aware he was sharing a confidence, in Mr. Pratt’s account to investigators. According to Mr. Pratt, Mr. Trump described the number of nuclear warheads that U.S. submarines typically travel with, and their stealthy proximity to Russian waters”
“In November 2021, Mr. Pratt flew to Florida to have coffee at Mar-a-Lago and meet with Mr. Trump, records show. It is unclear what they discussed, or if they have met since,” reports the newspaper.
On October 6, citing multiple sources, US ABC News reported:
“While Pratt told investigators he couldn’t tell if what Trump said about U.S. submarines was real or just bluster, investigators nevertheless asked Pratt not to repeat the numbers that Trump allegedly told him, suggesting the information could be too sensitive to relay further.
“In emails and conversations after meeting with Trump, Pratt described Trump’s remarks to at least 45 others, including six journalists, 11 of his company’s employees, 10 Australian officials, and three former Australian prime ministers”.
One of Trump’s former Mar-a-Lago employees allegedly told US investigators that “within minutes of Pratt’s meeting with Trump” the former employee “heard Pratt relaying to someone else some of what Trump had just said”.
“According to the sources, the former Mar-a-Lago employee also told investigators he was “bothered” and “shocked” to hear that the former president had shared such seemingly sensitive information to a non-US citizen,” US ABC News reported.
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