Racist, misogynistic, homophobic ranting energy mogul fined over misleading ads

BEN Polis was a young rising star of the Australian energy industry. Energetic himself, Polis was on top of the world, as co-founder and CEO of EnergyWatch, a company he claimed was worth $100 million, and which reportedly made close to $12 million in the 2011 financial year.

And then he started a Facebook account and began telling everyone what he thought. About everything.

And that’s where things started to go wrong for the 31-year-old entrepreneur. Because as it turns out, Ben – living in one of the most multicultural nations on earth – has a problem with Asians. And Africans. And French ‘sluts’. And Muslims. Jews. And Aboriginals of course. And everyone who lives in Frankston.

In a series of Facebook brain farts that lasted months, he railed against “wogs” and “ethnic” men and women, and theorized that Asian women had no use to society other than to drive up insurance premiums, adding that “after you go back to their house you can take their bike and ride home! Anyone for rice, I said eggs ding dong wong!”

What does that even mean?

He lamented that he couldn’t fly a jet and kill some Africans, and he reserved a special kind of Aussie distaste for people cleaning his flat. The Chinese: “[They must think I’m a bad man. 3pm lying naked on my bed, still asleep. “Ben we clean” yes, f**king clean unless you’re here to bring me Chinese takeaway.”

I think it’s safe to say Ben that yes, they do think you’re a bad man. And perhaps an idiot. And perhaps you should wear some clothes when the cleaners come over.

“[They must think I’m a bad man. 3pm lying naked on my bed, still asleep. “Ben we clean” yes, f**king clean unless you’re here to bring me Chinese takeaway.”
– Ben Polis

Polis called Kiwis “retarded cousins”, said that he would only take women aged under 22 to the Brownlow medal (all women older “have no use in society”… and “no use in business”), and he labeled some French women he was apparently housing in a Paris Hotel room as “sluts”.

Liam Jurrah, an Aboriginal AFL star for the Melbourne Demons – a club his company sponsored – even came in for a spray. Polis remarked that Jurrah’s tribal tattoos were in fact “ringworms” because he’d never seen a doctor.

Remarkably, he even attacked his own customers, posting one Christmas Day: “56 people submitted their details on xmas day at EnergyWatch! You obviously don’t have much of a life…. Or your family hates you! But thanks for the business!!!! – Just looked at the names, it was all Muslims and Jews! Xmas haters!”

The irony of Polis commenting on people who gave him business on Christmas Day – while looking up the stats on Christmas Day – is apparently lost on him.

His very public ranting, as you might expect, eventually went viral. In April this year, the Herald Sun broke news of Polis’ startling stupidity, leading to his resignation as CEO of EnergyWatch, the company he helped found.

The Melbourne Demons speared EnergyWatch as a sponsor, as did other sporting codes.

And then last week, the final humiliation – Polis was torn a new one by the Federal Court for “serious” breaches of Australia’s consumer laws, and for misleading EnergyWatch customers.

So it turns out he’s not only a racist, homophobic, mysogonistic wanker. But he’s also a crook. Quelle surprise.

Polis was personally fined $65,000, and EnergyWatch copped a fine of $1.95 million.

Federal Court Justice Shane Marshall on Friday said that EnergyWatch had engaged in a mass-marketed campaign, which according to Mr Polis cost millions of dollars. And unfortunately for him, it also made six types of false and misleading representations in 80 advertisements in various forms of media.

“The campaign was aimed at saturating the public with its business product,” Justice Marshall said. “The representations were that Energy Watch’s services had uses and benefits that its services did not have.”

Which is ironic when you think about it. Because every morning that ben Polis wakes, he’s guilty of precisely the same thing.

Justice Marshall had ruled in May that consumers were led to believe Energy Watch compared the prices of all energy retailers, when in fact they only compared the prices of their preferred retailers.

He noted that the company made close to $12 million in the year ending June 30, 2011. Why the company was now in liquidation with debts of about $8 million was not explained to the court, he said.

The action was launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Bless their cotton socks. They had suggested that Polis should be fined $100,000. But Justice Marshall said while he was currently suffering financial hardship, he had no doubt Polis would recover from the setback.

“He is young, intelligent and energetic,” he said.

Young, yes. Energtic. No doubt.

But intelligent?

And suffering financial hardship?

Polis didn’t show up for Friday’s judgment. He is reportedly taking an “overseas” break. Presumably not in Asia, Africa, the Middle East or the Mediterranean.

Possibly in France.

* Chris Graham is an Australian journalist specialising in Aboriginal Affairs. He has twice won the Human Rights Award for his reporting, and is a Walkley Award and a Walkley High Commendation winner. He lives in Glebe, Sydney.

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