Referrer role confers no immunity

Cor Cordis partner Mark Hutchins
Cor Cordis partner
Mark Hutchins.

It can’t be too often that an insolvency practitioner is responsible for the laying of criminal charges against his or her own referrer, but the resume of Cor Cordis partner Mark Hutchins now boasts this curious distinction.

This follows the news that a company director and two pre-insolvency advisors appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court last week on charges including breaching director duties and dealing in the proceeds of crime.

One of those pre-insolvency advisors is a gentleman by the name of Stephen O’Neill of Port Melbourne.

O’Neill and the other alleged pre-insolvency advisor – John Narramore of Main Beach Queensland – operate a firm called firm SME’s R Us.

In 2015 the pair provided pre-insolvency advice to Richard Ludwig of Broadbeach Waters Queensland, the director of Cap Coast Telecoms Pty Ltd.

A copy of Hutchins’ Declaration of Independence, Relevant Relationships and Indemnities (DIRRI) shows that Cap Coast was referred to Hutchins and colleague Robert Kite on or around January 19, 2015.

According to the DIRRI the referrer was “Mr Steve Marks of SME’s R Us, whom act as advisors to the company and/or its officeholders.”

The ABC has reported extensively on SME’s R Us and Stephen Mark O’Neill, including that he often uses the alias Steve Marks.

In January 2018 the ABC’s Dan Oakes reported that industry sources regarded director of SMEs R Us, Stephen O’Neill – also known as Steve Marks – “as one of the most prolific pre-insolvency advisers in the country”.

INO understands that Hutchins and his team very quickly identified issues in regards to monies moved out of Cap Coast Telecoms’ accounts prior to his appointment and reported the conduct to ASIC.

After investigating, the corporate regulator referred the case to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and charges were subsequently laid.

O’Neill and Narramore were charged with one count each of dealing in proceeds of crime worth $100,000 or more.

INO alleges no guilt. The three were bailed to reappear on May 3, 2019.

About the Author

Peter Gosnell
Peter Gosnell
Insolvency News Online illuminates the practice of insolvency Australia-wide, highlighting the triumphs and travails of the nation’s registered practitioners and the accounting and legal professionals who work with them. INO is produced by Peter Gosnell, former business editor and senior business reporter at The Daily Telegraph newspaper. During a decade-long career, your correspondent reported on such notable corporate collapses as HIH, One.Tel, Westpoint and Fincorp as well as some of the nation's highest profile bankruptcies and the investigations and prosecutions arising from Australia's most notorious instances of white-collar crime.

4 Comments on "Referrer role confers no immunity"

  1. In the world of insolvency that is what ought occur – without regard to nature of referrer

  2. 100% agree with Jim.

  3. What was the result of the court case?

  4. O’Neill ,same one who ran “Money for living” ? and from memory did jail time in the early 2000s for another mortgage investment company?

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