Grill’d investor and CEO Geoff Bainbridge’s meth pipe video sees company losing millions
More than $70 million has been slashed from the share price of a growing whiskey company after a video of its CEO smoking in a glass pipe emerged.
Geoff Bainbridge, 50, resigned as managing director of liquor company Lark Distilling on Wednesday after The Australian posted the video.
A major shareholder in the whiskey distillery business with a stake worth $17million, Lark Distilling released a statement in which Mr Bainbridge said he would step down ‘with immediate effect for him to manage a personal matter”.
Lark’s stock price had risen nearly 200% in the past year.
Mr Bainbridge is a co-founder of popular burger chain Grill’d, but left the company in 2015, shortly before the video was filmed.
The father-of-four told Nine newspapers he believed he had been the victim of an extortion attempt by an international criminal group.
Australian businessman Geoff Bainbridge quit as CEO of Lark Liquor Distillery as video showed him holding a glass pipe
“At the end of the day, I put myself in a situation that I shouldn’t have been in,” he said.
“I am a victim of extortion but this would not have happened without my poor judgment. I am deeply remorseful for my own actions.
Bainbridge told Nine that he was not a typical drug user.
In the footage, believed to have been taken in 2015 in a Southeast Asian country, the former CEO was heard saying: “Let’s get high together baby”. I’d smoke meth and blow it on your c*** baby.
‘I’m so stoned, I’m so horny.’
He was seen wearing just a pair of underwear while mumbling into the camera, in the video posted by The Australian.
Bainbridge said The Sydney Morning Herald that he had been the victim of an extortion racket since December 2015.
Bainbridge claimed he woke up after a night of partying to find two strange men showing him pictures of him with the pipe.
Bainbridge told Nine Newspapers he believed he was the victim of an extortion attempt.
“I was just horrified. You’re like, ‘What else happened? What else can’t I remember? How am I going to explain this to anyone?’ he told the Herald.
He claims the two men then threatened to expose the footage and demanded money from Bainbridge and he gave them $3,000.
A few years later, they came back asking for more money. Bainbridge gave them an additional $9,000 over 14 consecutive payments.
WhatsApp messages allegedly sent by the men to Bainbridge show them threatening to show the footage to his children and the media.
“You just have to negotiate and you’ll be fine,” said one.
‘Tik tok little man.’
Due to his apparent drug use, the businessman did not take the case to the police, but sought advice from a global risk consultancy group.
He was told to either keep paying the men or hope they go, although they threatened to leak the vision to the Australian media.
The video was filmed after Bainbridge ended its association with popular burger chain Grill’d
A video has been edited to look like it was filmed last year instead of 2015.
Bainbridge’s lawyers told the Australian he was the subject of a ‘ongoing, sophisticated and recently escalated attempt at extortion by people overseas using manipulated unverified images”.
“Mr. Bainbridge’s attempted extortion began years before he became involved with Lark Distillery; and Mr Bainbridge sought help from London-based professionals for the extortion attempt.
Bainbridge was named chief executive of Lark in 2019. Lark Distillery is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Its stock price rose from $1.53 to $4.52 in one year, valuing the company at around $340 million. Lark’s stock price was $3.90 late Thursday morning.
Bainbridge had also helped run Grill’d since 2004 with chief executive Simon Crowe before the pair fell out in 2016 over ownership of the business.