Freed drug trafficker Schapelle Corby faced criticism on Tuesday that she is cashing in on her crime, as reports she has been offered millions for her first post-jail interview were played down by the Australian network trying to sign her up.
Channel Seven was widely reported to have secured the first interview with the 36-year-old for up to A$2 million (US$1.8 million) following her release on parole on Monday from prison on Indonesia’s Bali island.
But reporter Mike Willesee said on Tuesday that no deal had been finalised, calling reports of the sums involved “silly” and insisting the money being discussed was “considerably lower”.
His comments came as controversy builds about whether Corby should be allowed to profit from her more than nine years behind bars, with experts divided on whether Australian law would permit it.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously made clear that Corby should not be allowed to profit while on Tuesday Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey tweeted that it would send “all the wrong messages”.
Corby’s case has been the subject of huge fascination back home ever since her 2004 arrest in Bali, a favourite holiday spot for Australians, with marijuana stashed in her surfing gear.
She fought through a huge media scrum with her face covered on her release on Monday before being whisked away to a luxury resort and spa in Bali’s upmarket Seminyak district.
The first picture of Corby without her face covered since her release was published on Tuesday in an Australian magazine, showing her smiling as she drank a beer with her brother.
But which organisation has secured the first sit-down chat with the convicted drug smuggler is unclear with Channel Seven’s Willesee playing down reports it would be his network.
“At this stage we don’t have a paid interview, but I can tell you the money they’re talking about... is just really silly,” the veteran journalist said as he went for a walk outside the luxury resort.
“The money being discussed is considerably lower. It’s way, way lower.”
Willesee said that there were a “few things up in the air” and he did not know when an interview might happen.
It is unclear whether Corby will be able to profit from her criminal notoriety due to the Commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act.
Her case is seen as complicated as the offence took place in Indonesia and she has not been convicted in Australia, although the act does state that it “can sometimes be used to confiscate the proceeds of crime that break foreign laws”.
Experts were divided on whether Corby and her family would be able to hang on to the money through clever accounting or whether they would end up losing much of it.
“If Corby’s smart... she won’t profit directly from this money,” law lecturer Hugh McDermott at Charles Sturt University told The Australian newspaper.
“The money will go to her family or a separate trust. There’s millions of dollars to be made here and I imagine they’ll structure it in a way to keep it out of the hands of law enforcers.”
Hordes of Australian journalists were still staking out the luxury resort on Tuesday, scrutinising every vehicle going in and out, trying to catch a glimpse of Corby and what her next move might be.