Richard Pratt was married to Jeanne Pratt (née Lasker) for nearly 50 years. After the success of Visy Industries, They enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, with a private jet and a range of apartments, including a penthouse at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York City; their main home was the historic mansion Raheen, in the Melbourne suburb of Kew, the former residence of Roman Catholic Archbishop Daniel Mannix. The Pratts had three grown children, Anthony, Heloise and Fiona.
Another daughter, Paula, was born in 1997 to his long-term mistress, Sydney socialite Shari-Lea Hitchcock. In 2000 this affair became the subject of widespread media attention owing to a court case involving Ms Hitchcock and a nanny hired to look after her daughter. At the time, Mr Pratt was accused of trying to pay hush money to the nanny who had launched legal action against Ms Hitchcock.
Richard Pratt died at his Kew residence after a well-publicised battle with prostate cancer, on 28 April 2009, the day after all charges against him had been dropped due to his ill-health.
In December 2005 the ACCC commenced a civil penalty proceeding against Visy companies, Pratt and others for alleged involvement in a cartel in the packaging industry.
On 10 October 2007, Richard Pratt was formally accused of price fixing, cheating customers and companies out of approximately AUD $700 million in the nation's biggest ever cartel case. The ACCC alleged "very serious contraventions" of the law and that these had been "carefully and deliberately concealed" by Visy senior executives. The ACCC counsel further stated:
"There can be no suggestion that Visy acted in ignorance of its obligations under the act,"]
and further added that the deliberate use of pre-paid mobile phones that could not be traced and the holding of meetings in private homes, motel rooms and suburban parks
"...provides a strong indication that Visy was fully aware that the conduct was illegal".
After more than a year of denials Pratt subsequently admitted his guilt, acknowledging he and his company VISY, and "rival" company Amcor deliberately broke the law. Pratt was aggrieved by the criminal prosecution and its effect on his reputation, stating:
"I feel very angry -- Visy is seen as Richard Pratt's company -- there is a certain amount of character assassination for me personally because I am a tall poppy in the community; it's a big scalp (for the ACCC). My reputation is something I have been building for 50 years and so I am worried that the general public will now see me as a rich person who has made his money doing something that is wrong in the eyes of the law."
On 2 November 2007, Pratt and the Visy group received a A$36 million fine, representing both the largest fine in Australian history and an estimated 0.75% of the Pratt fortune. Federal Court judge Justice Heerey said Mr Pratt and his senior executives were knowingly concerned in the cartel, which involved price fixing and market sharing.
"This is the worst cartel to come before the courts in 30-plus years, Justice Heerey said.
Additionally customers of Visy have initiated claims against Visy and Amcor, including a $120 million suit by Cadbury Schweppes against Amcor.
On 19 June 2008, Pratt was charged with lying about his knowledge of a price-fixing scandal. Mr Pratt had been facing four separate charges under Section 5 of the Act, the penalty for each charge ranges from a fine of $2200 to 12 months' jail.
On 27 April 2009, this criminal prosecution of Pratt for charges of impropriety (lying to the ACCC during its successful investigation into the Visy/Amcor price fixing scandal) were abandoned on account of his poor health and impending death. However, Commonwealth Prosecutor Mark Dean SC told the Federal Court the CDPP believed the prosecution would have succeeded. Pratt died the following day.