The managing director and owner of failed transport company 1st Fleet has left Australia for the United States while administrators investigate claims company directors have committed offences.
On Anzac Day, 1st Fleet was placed into administration with workers locked out and their jobs terminated.
At the time, director and owner Stephen Brown told SmartCompany the collapse was “a friggin’ disaster”.
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He placed the blame for the administration on 1st Fleet’s funders, Coface, saying: “These gooses want to go home to France and wanted the money back in France and didn’t care about the 600 jobs. It’s just disgraceful.”
However, administrators de Vries Tayeh told SmartCompany this morning that Brown is now overseas and is being investigated for potential offences.
“I think he is out of the country but he is returning; he has just gone for a short while,” says administrator Antony de Vries.
“We have completed our preliminary review of the situation and identified offences we think the company officers may have committed.”
De Vries says he is unable to expand on the allegations in relation to offences committed by company directors at this stage, but says “there is only one director, Stephen Brown”.
“The second meeting of creditors is scheduled for May 22 and it appears likely that the company may go into liquidation and we will have a long list of items to investigate,” says de Vries.
“We are working with the Department of Education and Employment and they are fast-tracking process of early payments for employee entitlements.
“We are moving towards the process of asset realisation and selling the remaining business units as a whole is appearing more and more remote.”
He says 400-500 employees of 1st Fleet had been terminated along with a similar number of sub-contractors, “who were, for all intents and purposes, part of the work force”.
Stephen Brown’s lawyers were contacted by SmartCompany for comment but failed to respond prior to publication.