Commonwealth Bank’s chief information officer Michael Harte has bought Budelli Island, off the coast of northern Sardinia, Italy, for €2.94 million ($4.2 million) at an auction.
The 1.6-square-kilometre island was previously owned by a Milan-based real estate business.
Budelli Island is protected by strict environmental restrictions. Its sale to Harte must first be approved by Italy’s Ministry of Environment; politicians have argued that the island should be public property.
The Daily Mail reported in February that it was forbidden to land or drop anchor within 100 metres of its sands, and the only buildings on the island were a “caretaker’s house, postwar military structure, the ruins of a cabin and a dry stone wall along the beach”.
Harte told the New Zealand Herald last week that he would “protect it in the same way that the national park ideals were set up”.
He said his primary aim was to preserve Budelli’s land- and marine-based plant and wildlife, and members of the public would continue to be able to visit the island.
Harte had been working on buying the island for three years, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Michael Harte joined the Commonwealth Bank in 2006 to lead a massive IT transformation program that has been highlighted by CEO Ian Narev and former CEO Ralph Norris as a pillar of the group’s strategy.
He is one of Australia’s best-paid – and most well-known – chief information officers, receiving more than $1.7 million in cash payments from the bank in the 2013 financial year.
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