How much did Channel 9 pay in compensation for 60 Minutes crew?

By Victoria Craw

It's the question worth $64,000 and quite possibly much more.

How much did Channel Nine pay in compensation for the charges to be dropped against their star 60 Minutes team detained in Lebanon?

On Wednesday executives at the network scrambled to make a compensation payment and complete paperwork in order for the charges against their four crew members to be scrapped.

Hours later, presenter Tara Brown, producer Stephen Rice, sound recordist David Ballment and cameraman Ben Williamson left custody in a mini-van and headed straight for the airport in Beirut.

Mr Elamine denied he received any money and said he dropped the charges against his estranged wife because he did not want the kids to think he left her in jail.

He also said the television crew were simply doing their job and he did not blame him for their role.

However The Australian reports the compensation involved a "multi-million dollar deal" and cited a source close to negotiations as saying it was "very big by Lebanese standards". Another said it was "certainly not in the millions".

"My sources were telling me that money was not as extravagant as as being bandied around," said News Corp Australia's Jacqueline Magnay.

The 60 Minutes crew (clockwise from top left) Tara Brown, Ben Williamson, Stephen Rice and David Ballment.
The 60 Minutes crew (clockwise from top left) Tara Brown, Ben Williamson, Stephen Rice and David Ballment.

"Not in millions of millions but it was enormous by Lebanese standards," she said.

Earlier this week, the father of two was accused by Ms Faulkner's lawyer of holding her to ransom. Ghassan Moghabghab said Mr Elamine was "waiting for money" and that "everything he did leads to one conclusion, that he is aiming for money."

Ali al-Amin, a Lebanese father whose ex-wife tried to abduct their children from him, talks to the press as he leaves the court in Baabda northeast of Beirut. AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO
Ali al-Amin, a Lebanese father whose ex-wife tried to abduct their children from him, talks to the press as he leaves the court in Baabda northeast of Beirut. AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO

Adam Whittington's lawyer Joe Karam also said "Ali is the one that's escalating and he is aiming for money."

The Nine Network have declined to comment on a figure. Mr Elamine has said "money is not an issue" and he "did not sign anything, did not get anything".

While undisclosed, the compensation payment is one of a number of huge sums the network has thrown at the case since they allegedly paid $115,000 to CARI's Adam Whittington and Craig Michael for the case to go ahead.

Australian TV presenter Tara Brown (back) and Sally Faulkner, are released from prison. AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO
Australian TV presenter Tara Brown (back) and Sally Faulkner, are released from prison. AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO

On Wednesday a lawyer for the British pair still in custody said authorities had been shown documents proving the an initial payment of $69,000 made by Nine.

The TV station has also flown News Director Darren Wick to the country to oversee the team's legal fight and hired public relations expert Greg Baxter to guide them through the crisis period.

- news.com.au

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