A former liquidator appeared before the Downing Centre Local Court in NSW yesterday accused of obtaining $90,000 by deception.
In 2009, Mark Levi, who is a managing director of Titan Advisory, was a senior staff member at Jamieson Louttit & Associates. In that role, he oversaw the liquidation of a company called Biseja, which develops projects in the north of Sydney.
After an investigation, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brought Levi before the Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board.
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It claimed that on two separate occasions, in April 2009 and again in October 2009, Levi used a Biseja cheque to pay for his own personal tax while paying for the company’s tax liability. He them allegedly falsified records in an attempt to cover his tracks.
In October 2010, Levi allegedly admitted the payments to ASIC, but later denied the admission, claiming the payments were made with his employer’s full knowledge and consent.
In a September 2013 hearing, the CALDB cancelled Levi’s registration as a liquidator.
In a statement issued at the time, the CALDB said Levi acted in a manner that was “fundamentally inimical to fitness to practise as a liquidator”.
“CALDB found that Mr Levi engaged in serious acts of dishonesty in misappropriating funds, in falsification of records in order to disguise misappropriation and in putting forward a false version of events after having admitted the misappropriation,” the CALDB said.
Levi now faces a range of charges over the matter, including two counts of obtaining money by deception, two counts of making a false instrument, two counts of using a false instrument and two counts of making a false document.
SmartCompany contacted both Titan Advisory and Jamieson Louttit & Associates, but no comment was available prior to publication.
The chief executive of forensic accounting firm Warfield & Associates, Brett Warfield, told SmartCompany liquidators are often the ones looking over their own shoulder when it comes to oversight.
“One of the issues is that liquidators are meant to act in the best interests of the creditors. They have widespread powers but these powers can be abused,” Warfield says.
Warfield says there are a number of ways creditors can reduce their risks.
“Take a good look at the reports that are produced, as well as the level of detail in those reports, and be proactive in terms of questions at creditors meetings,” he says.
The latest case comes after ASIC issued a report in April that showed the number of misconduct claims made against Australian liquidators has fallen.
KPMG’s partner in charge for forensic, Gary Gill, told SmartCompany the good news for creditors is the case is unusual.
“It’s the first one I’ve heard in quite a while – and I’d certainly say it’s not widespread. In a liquidation, there’s often not a lot left in a business, but there’s always a risk,” he says.
“So it’s important to appoint someone you can trust, be aware of the risks and have some oversight.”