Disgraced EnergyWatch chief Ben Polis leaves company as allegations of management problems surface

The controversy surrounding disgraced former chief executive of utilities broker EnergyWatch continued to build during the Easter weekend, with a variety of allegations emerging over investigations into the founder’s previous businesses and staff mismanagement.

The details came to light days after Polis stepped down from his post after making racist and offensive remarks on his personal Facebook page.

It has been alleged that Polis suspended a staff member with any supporting documentation during his tenure at EnergyWatch and falsely told another staff member he was being investigated by the Federal Police.

Energy companies and the Melbourne Football Club, which previously received $2 million a year from EnergyWatch, immediately severed ties with Polis and the company after the incident occurred.

EnergyWatch was contacted by SmartCompany this morning but a reply was not available prior to publication.

Fairfax has alleged that according to an internal email from the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI), Polis was being investigated over some red flags which included accusations of workplace drug use, sexual harassment, underpayment of wages and non-payment of superannuation.

VECCI was contacted by SmartCompany this morning but a reply was not available prior to publication.

The email reportedly stated that Polis’ business partner Luke Zombor should “look at any way of cleaning up/filing away any evidence laying around in relation to any drug/sexual harassment/other types if past claims or issues”.

“It does appear employees have had or do have their hands on certain information in relation to the above examples which may be detrimental to EnergyWatch and its sponsoring.”

VECCI chief Mark Stone told Fairfax the organisation terminated its connection with EnergyWatch shortly after that email was sent.

“We were contracted by EnergyWatch to consult on their management structure,” Stone said. ‘‘In the course of that job, after interviews with staff, a whole lot of other issues came to light.

“They included the misrepresentation that we had contacted the federal police.”

Separate accusations indicate that Polis was investigated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission after he borrowed more than $110,000 from another business.

Zombor and Polis were part of another company, Saint Group Australasia, which collapsed in 2008 and Polis was involved in a previous failed business, Polis Australia.

Last week three football clubs – Melbourne Football Club, Melbourne Victory and the Melbourne Rebels – terminated deals with the company.

Clients TRUenergy and Momentum Energy also terminated contracts after the incident, putting the future of EnergyWatch into question.


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