The flashy company boss at the centre of what could be Australia’s biggest-ever corporate data leak is a notorious self-promoter whose extravagant salary packages have sparked outrage.
Ahmed Fahour, 57, is CEO of Latitude Financial, the interest-free credit card and buy now, pay later company used by stores like Harvey Norman and Apple in Australia.
The company has now revealed the personal details of up to 15million customers – including driving licence and passport numbers – have been leaked in a devastating hack set to overshadow even last year’s massive Optus breach.
But as the backlash explodes over the huge data management failure, Mr Fahour will this week walk away from the company at the height of the crisis when he quits after four years in the job.
Mr Fahour, who announced his departure plans in August last year, is set to spend more time with his newlywed second wife Hannah at their freshly-built $5.1million beachside dream home in Melbourne’s ritzy Sorrento seaside suburb.
Ahmed Fahour (pictured with second wife, Hannah), 57, is CEO of Latitude Financial, the interest-free credit card and buy now, pay later company used by stores like Harvey Norman and Apple in Australia.
Ahmed Fahour sold his Hawthorn mansion Invergowrie (pictured) for a staggering $40.5million in 2021, doubling his money in eight years after buying it for $20million in 2013
Ahmed Fahour drove a luxury Maserati supercar (similar to the stock image pictured) with the rego AMAZNN while Australia Post CEO
He paid in cash for the bespoke five-bedroom house using the massive profit he made selling Hawthorn mansion ‘Invergowrie’ for a staggering $40.5million in 2021, doubling his money in eight years after buying it for $20million in 2013.
The twice-married father of four children, from his first marriage to yoga teacher Dionnie, drove a Maserati supercar with the rego AMAZNN to work while CEO of Australia Post before leaving in 2017 amid high drama over his salary and bonuses.
‘Part of Ahmed’s background and capability is that he’s pretty much a good sales guy and he sells himself very well,’ John Stanhope, his former chairman at Australia Post, admitted in a recent profile on the boss.
‘He genuinely believes he’s worth the value he demands.’
The Muslim son of Lebanese immigrants – one of eight children – is shameless about his knack of always negotiating the best possible deal for himself.
That trait was first noted 18 years ago when he was appointed CEO of NAB.
At the bank’s 2005 AGM, a previous NAB CEO, Neil Clark, highlighted Mr Fahour’s lofty valuation of himself.
He revealed Mr Fahour had earned more in his first 28 days with NAB than Mr Clark had done in 45 years of working at the highest levels of Australian banking.
THE LIFELINE THAT KICKSTARTED AHMED FAHOUR’S FAMILY
Ahmed Fahour has revealed how his parents relied on an unsecured loan like those offered by Latitude to first set up home and business after they arrived in Melbourne from Lebanon in the 1970s.
They approached Avco, the personal lender sponsor on the back of the guernseys of their local Carlton AFL club at the time, and were given $10,000 to open a Middle Eastern sweet shop and kick start their new life in Australia.
Mr Fahour admits the interest rate was probably exorbitant – but insists the more important point was they were given a chance they would not have been given by the banks.
Lebanese-born Mr Fahour is a large donor to Melbourne’s Islamic Museum of Australia, founded by his brother Moustafa, with his sister Samira El Khafir – who competed in Masterchef – running the cafe.
Pauline Hanson questioned his Muslim background during the Australia Post pay row, but Mr Fahour snapped back: ‘I love this country so much.
‘We came here legitimately, we assimilated, and we love being in this country.
‘I felt really sad for the senator that she would descend to that level of commentary.’
Mr Clark drily added that he hoped Mr Fahour would be able to do as well for shareholders as he did for himself.
It was an observation that was echoed some years later when he was CEO of Australia Post and his salary was quietly hidden from its annual report while he axed 900 staff.
There was outrage when it was later revealed he had earned $5.6million in 2016, far in excess of what his predecessors in the role were paid.
The extravagant salary package was slammed by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
‘As the Prime Minister and a taxpayer, I’ve spoken to the chairman today,’ the PM said at the time.
‘I think that salary, that remuneration, is too high.’
Even six years later, the current Australia Post CEO Paul Graham still only earned a shade over $2million in 2022 – and it was clearly stated in the latest annual report.
Mr Fahour eventually quit Australia Post in 2017 over the pay row after coming under pressure from a furious backlash from the public.
One Nation senator Pauline Hanson said his resignation was ‘fantastic’ – but after seven years in the top job, Mr Fahrour walked away with a $10.8million golden handshake in base pay and bonuses.
Six years later, Mr Fahrour is quitting again, announcing his intention to resign last August after four years at the helm of Latitude.
His term in charge has seen him again rocked by controversy with a row over stock options in an abandoned $4billion share flotation which could have netted him $50million.
After a revised share offer did go ahead – at $2.60 a share – the stock has since slipped to just $1.14 on Tuesday and tipped to fall further as anger grows over the data breach.
Even before details of the leak emerged on March 16, the share price was already just $1.21. Net profits after tax have slumped by 66 per cent, down to $30.6million, and revenue has dropped 12.1 percent.
But he insists his four-year reign has been a success which has taken the $2billion firm from being the fifth biggest consumer lender to second.
‘It’s a massive, massive change,’ he said.
‘It has been a privilege to serve as CEO of Latitude and I am incredibly proud of everything the business has achieved.’
Mr Stanhope, who was chairman at Australia Post during the salary row, insisted the business whizz was worth every penny.
‘When you put yourself out there as he does, then you paint a target on yourself,’ Mr Stanhope told the AFR in 2019.
‘As far as I’m concerned, he’s very good at his job.’
HOW LATITUDE LEAK COMPARES TO THE MASSIVE OPTUS BREACH
Up to 15million customers have had personal details leaked in a devastating hack set to overshadow even last year’s massive Optus breach
Personal details of up to 15million Latitude customers have been leaked in the latest hack including almost 8million driving licence numbers – with 3.2million of those supplied in the last decade – and around 530,000 passport numbers.
A further 6.1million records dating back to 2005 – which may include names, addresses, phone numbers and/or dates of birth – were also accessed in the breach.
The updated figures on Monday are 42 times bigger than the initial report by Latitude and overshadows even the colossal Optus data breach last year.
Ironically, CEO Ahmed Fahour recently bragged ‘We have an enormous data lake in our organisation.’
In another interview, he added prophetically: ‘Trust in institutions is at an all-time low. Trust in people of authority is at an all-time low.
‘And so, right now, you have people who think of many institutions and leaders in the same way they think of a used car salesman.’
In the wake of the data breach though, he was more humble this week when he broke his silence over the huge-scale hack attack.
‘It is hugely disappointing such a significant number of additional customers and applicants have been affected by this incident,’ he admitted.
‘We apologise unreservedly.’
It comes after Optus revealed in September that personal details for 10million of its customers had been leaked by hackers, including passport, Medicare and driving licence numbers.
Customers who were worst affected by the breach were given free monthly credit check reports to give them early warning of any attempts at identity theft using the stolen details.
Those affected by the Optus hack may already have taken the steps required to protect them from the latest Latitude leak – such as getting new driving licence numbers or card numbers and replacing passports – but many will not.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk