Former reseller's directors sentenced for deception

 

Two former directors of failed Port Melbourne reseller Triple One have been sentenced in the Victorian courts for attempting to gain financial advantage by deception.

Two former directors of failed Port Melbourne reseller Triple One have been sentenced in the Victorian courts for attempting to gain financial advantage by deception.

Katina Karabatsas, a former director of the previously ASX-listed services and applications provider Triple One Group, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, in contravention of Victoria's Crimes Act.

Triple One ceased trading on 28 September 2001 and officially entered receivership 3 October of that year with unpaid debts of $2.4 million, according to files from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which brought the charges.

ASIC said in a statement that original allegations had suggested that between 25 May 2001 and 5 September 2001, Karabatsas had provided 21 false or inflated invoices worth a total $990,799 to the Australian Guarantee Corporation (AGC).

AGC had agreed to purchase some of Triple One's debts at a reduced price to help the business "obtain immediate cash flow", ASIC said.

However, investigations revealed that Karabatsas had provided 22 false invoices worth $806,326.50, and AGC had only paid 80 percent of the debts purchased, according to ASIC.

"Karabatsas dishonestly obtained an advantage for Triple One in the sum of $645,605.88," ASIC said.

She was sentenced on Friday, 6 February, in the County Court of Victoria to 18 months in prison, suspended.

Another former Triple One director, Timothy Wilks, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 2 February of two counts of using his position as a director dishonestly to gain an advantage for himself or another in contravention of the Corporations Act.

"The court ... found that on 1 October 2001, Mr Wilks used his position dishonestly to transfer $50,000 from Triple One's bank to an account in his own name, with the money then used to repay a loan that a family member had advanced to the company," ASIC said.

Triple One had then been unable to pay its wages, the Commission said.

ASIC said the court had also found that on 28 September 2001, Wilks used his position dishonestly to transfer $8,250 from Triple One's bank account to a bank account in the name of Tagget Pty Ltd, a private company he controlled, as payment of his management fees.

Wilks was on 2 February ordered to pay $4,000 in court costs and was released without conviction, pending a $500 good behaviour bond for two years, the Commission said.

A spokesperson for ASIC said it was not the Commission's policy to comment at length on investigations pending or concluded.

"There's not much I can add to what's already been said publicly," he said.

However, the ASIC investigation had begun in November 2001, he added, soon after receivers Sims Lockwood -- now Horwath Melbourne -- were appointed.
 
Triple One was a business partner of Oddsoft, the parent company of defunct Victorian ISP and web development company Odd Software.com.

Oddsoft and Triple One were joint venture partners in an Odd Software.com project called LinkITX until the latter went into receivership.

Stephen Prior, a Melbourne chartered accountant who was previously a director and company secretary for Oddsoft, said that Oddsoft had resumed control of planned joint development of multimedia corporate communications software, dubbed LinkITX, on 10 October 2001 after Triple One entered receivership.

"An asset write-down of Oddsoft's investment in Triple One (which stood at $1.7 million at 31 December 2000) will in all likelihood be required," Prior said in a 10 October 2001 statement.

Triple One had been a significant investor in Odd Software.com, while director George McMaster had been invited to chair Triple One. Prior was contacted for comment on but had not replied at press time.

Triple One had also been a value-added reseller for listed legal software vendor Midware. The company's website claims that Triple One had supported the systems of more than 150 legal practices in Victoria.

Midware was also contacted to throw further light on today's news but had not replied at press time.


 
 
 
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