Elusive Firepower boss Tim Johnston faces a Federal Court injunction to keep him in Australia after he flew into the country for the first time in 18 months this week.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which is probing the loss of $100 million of Firepower investors' funds, made an urgent application yesterday to force Mr Johnston to stay in Australia.
The corporate watchdog was last night trying to alert every Australian airport capable of handling international flights about the ban.The commission was also trying to serve the failed fuel technology company chief with a copy of Federal Court Justice Tony Siopis's order that he hand his passport in to the court's registry in either Brisbane or Perth by noon tomorrow.
In making the application without informing Mr Johnston, ASIC claimed there was a "considerable risk" he would leave Australia immediately if he heard authorities wanted the travel ban.
ASIC lawyers said Mr Johnston had left Australia on March 23 last year and the investigation was being carried out on the basis he was unlikely to return.
But he had flown into Brisbane on Monday and was expected to leave for Indonesia tomorrow.
The West Australian understands he is meeting daughters Emily and Madeline while in Australia and may have been planning to attend Madeline's 21st birthday party.
Justice Siopis was also told that ASIC had referred several matters about Mr Johnston to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether charges should be brought.
" . . . the travel restraints will serve to protect investors and creditors by ensuring that the ASIC can complete its investigation, with a view to taking civil and/or criminal proceedings in relation to any wrongdoing," ASIC's submissions said.
"It is also likely to provide an opportunity for (liquidator Bryan Hughes), investors and creditors to consider their position and take action to recover any financial loss, if that is appropriate."
ASIC's extraordinary court application yesterday also revealed that the watchdog's investigation had been running since March 22, 2007 - just two months after Mr Johnston bought the Sydney Kings basketball team to add to Firepower's suite of sporting sponsorships.
It also said in the court application that as recently as three months ago Mr Hughes had identified a new avenue of investigation and made serious allegations against Mr Johnston which could be investigated. Mr Hughes also believed Mr Johnston had allowed the company to trade while insolvent from July 22, 2007, according to the application.