Finance

Pitcher Partners “mystified” by writ and vows to defend itself in Bill Express case

Engel Schmidl /

Accounting firm Pitcher Partners says it will “vigorously defend” a writ issued by the liquidator of failed payments company Bill Express, which claims the company signed off on financial statements despite them containing inaccuracies.

The controversy over the $250 million collapse follows a string of corporate failures and issues with the insolvency industry. Gunns announced last week it has appointed administrators, while ASIC has warned about more oversight on the industry. Already, this year has seen some controversial cases, including Lend Lease and its announcement regarding accounting irregulatories in subsidiary Abigroup. 

Pitcher Partners has said in a statement it will defend itself against the accusation made by PPB over the collapse, while PPB says the financial statements in question were used by bankers and suppliers to back up the business.

“Pitcher Partners is mystified at the appearance of the writ, which was issued within days of the expiry of a six-year period provided for in the statute of limitations.”

“The writ was issued in September 2011 but not served on Pitcher Partners until 27 September 2012, shortly prior to its expiry.”

Pitcher Partners also said the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have “conducted extensive investigations” with no mention of any wrongdoing.

PPB said in its legal claim the 2005 Bill Express financial report should have reported the company sustained a loss of at least $41 million, and also reportedly says the kiosks the company provided to newsagents weren’t stated properly in the report as well.

As a result, PPB suggests the auditors breached their directors’ duties and did not use reasonable skill and care.

It is only the latest controversy in the ongoing Bill Express debacle.

The company collapsed in 2008, but the pain has continued for several executives. In 2010, one director was charged by ASIC in the Federal Court including accusations of falsifying accounts.

He was found guilty and fined in July.

Then in 2011, ASIC banned founder Ian Christiansen from managing a corporation for five years.

The company provided payment solutions for businesses, with about 14,000 outlets across the country.

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