The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has banned celebrity chef Justin North and his wife Georgina North from managing corporations following their involvement in the failure of three companies.
ASIC announced today the Norths have been banned for two years and 18 months respectively, effective from April 4, 2014.
The ASIC ban follows the appointment of liquidators to award-winning Sydney restaurant Becasse in June 2012 and to Etch Restaurant and North Food Catering in July 2012.
The businesses employed 150 staff at their peak but administrators Jim Sarantinos and John Melluish of Ferrier Hodgson found the Norths’ “rapid growth” led to a “number of underlying business issues”.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
The regulator found the Norths failed to exercise their powers and discharge their director’s duties with the requisite degree of care and diligence.
ASIC found this failure resulted in “large deficiencies” owed to creditors totalling a combined sum of over $7 million for the three companies.
ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said in a statement, “ASIC’s power to disqualify directors of failed companies is an important preventative measure used by ASIC to safeguard the public interest.”
North was born in New Zealand and trained in New Zealand, Australia, France and the UK before returning to Australia in 1999.
He worked under chef Liam Tomlin at Sydney’s Banc Restaurant and moved through the ranks of the kitchen to the role of head chef before venturing out with his wife, who was the sommelier at Banc, to open Becasse.
North has also released two cookbooks and is well known from his appearances on MasterChef.
When Becasse initially went into administration North posted on Twitter: “Thank you everyone for your support, to confirm Georgia & I have put Becasse Group into voluntary administration with a view to restructure.
“In the meantime it is business as usual. We will post more updates soon.
“The support and messages have been overwhelming, sorry we haven’t been able to respond to all, come by and eat with us soon.”
The restaurant closed shortly afterwards and North has now opened a new restaurant at Hotel Centennial in Woollahra.
Persons banned by ASIC have a right to appeal their banning to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and may lodge their appeal within 28 days.