Fraud claims sink PennyTel

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Fraud claims sink PennyTel

Dragged down by Hi-Tech Telecom.

Mobile reseller PennyTel and wholesale VoIP provider iVoisys have both been forced into liquidation, after the NSW Supreme Court heard evidence of questionable payments to the companies from a debt-laden parent company.

PennyTel offered mobile and broadband plans running on the Vodafone network, while iVoiSys resold IP telephony and unified communications services over the same network. Both were ordered by the NSW Supreme Court to appoint a provisional liquidator last week.

Until March 2013, both PennyTel and iVoisys were run by director Amadu Yahaya, a Ghanian national based in Sydney.

Yahaya was also the founder and sole director of Hi-Tech Telecom (HTT), a networking and VoIP provider to the enterprise market, which entered into liquidation in June 2013 after its major creditor investigated a series of suspect financial transactions made by the company.

From around September 2010, HTT had entered into a factoring facility with Allianz whereby the creditor would loan HTT funds against unpaid invoices from customers. HTT's original limit of $7.1 million ballooned to $15 million by March 2012.

When HTT sought a further increase earlier this year, Allianz embarked on an independent verification of the balance of cash owed to Hi-Tech Telecom by its debtors.

Allianz discovered that several purported customers had no dealings with HTT, while others acted in a suspicious manner — causing the bank to question the legitimacy of HTT’s invoices.

Further investigation revealed that 21 of 45 debtors said to owe $23 million to HTT never had any dealings with the company. The remaining 24 were not able to be reached.

Liquidators were appointed, with Allianz as secured creditor, who is still owed some $14.4 million.

'Unjustified payments'

Hi-Tech's receivers have now come after the PennyTel and iVoiSys businesses.

All three companies are registered at the same residential address in North Ryde. Yahaya was the sole director of both iVoiSys and PennyTel until March 2013.  Megan Havyatt, also registered at the same address, is now the sole director of both. The court heard evidence that Havyatt and Yahaya were in a domestic relationship with two children.

The directorship of HTT, meanwhile, was transferred to one Robert Van Leeuwen, who has not assisted recievers with their investigations.

The court found that Yahaya had transferred $3.9 million to PennyTel and $1.2 million to iVoiSys earlier this year, for no apparent reason.

"I am satisfied that the evidence shows that, on the face of things, a fraud appears to have been perpetrated on Allianz and on HTT," said Supreme Court Justice James Stevenson in a judgment granting search and freeze orders against Yahaya, iVoiSys and PennyTel on behalf of HTT in June.

No business records for the operations of HTT were able to be found.

Yahaya was not present for the June hearings, his last contact with HTT's recievers made by telephone, in which Yahaya claimed to be in Los Angeles, USA.

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