There’ll no doubt be a limit to the length of the tentacles attaching to the Plutus Payroll labour hire fraud saga but at the moment the Australian Tax Office’s (ATO) biggest scandal continues to impress with its reach.
It was only about a week ago that The Australian newspaper reported that Metcash may have been stung by Plutus-aligned entities in the form of small labour hire firms headed by ‘dummy’ directors skimming PAYG tax from contractors working at MetCash’s warehouse complex at Crestmead in Queensland.
In that article, a firm called Rush Corporation had been engaged to find the workers for MetCash. While no allegations are made against Rush Corporation, its registered office and principal place of business are the same premises as those occupied by Scahill & Co, the Parramatta accounting firm that was raided by officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in May as part of the investigation into the $165 million Plutus scandal, codenamed Operation Elbrus.
Rush Corporation was not targeted by the AFP warrant and SiN alleges no wrongdoing, but it is has also turned up as a defendant in the curious matter of Scottish Pacific (BFS) Pty Ltd v Registrar of Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) & Ors, and behind that matter SiN discovered another that has seen Jirsch Sutherland’s Liam Bellamy and Malcolm Howell subjected to public examinations by RSM’s Neil Cribb
In the Federal Court yesterday, SiN sat in on a case management hearing of ScottPac’s application, which seeks to have the registration of a charge mistakenly removed from the PPSR reinstated.
ScottPac’s lawyer Michael Hayter confirmed it was taking responsibility to rectify the error, caused after a client obtained refinance elsewhere. The client’s new lender wanted the registered charge to be assigned to it but somewhere along the line the registrations were accidentally cancelled instead. “There was an honest mistake with the registration and we’re seeking to reinstate it,” Hayter told SiN.
A ScottPac spokeswoman said the mistake was a legacy issue inherited by the company when it purchased BFSA Pty Ltd in December 2015. The ex-client is Perth-based Phoenix Shutdown Services, which is in liquidation with Cribb installed as liquidator.
The new lender is none other than Rush Corporation, which appointed Bellamy and Howell as receivers to Phoenix Shutdown Services on October 20, 2015, 10 days before Cribb was appointed liquidator via a resolution of creditors.
When contacted Cribb said that his investigations had led him to conduct public examinations of Howell, Bellamy and Rush Corporation director Greg Mitchell, 67 of Goulburn. Investigations were ongoing, he said.
Bellamy confirmed Rush as his and Howell’s appointor but was unable to comment further. Mitchell’s lawyer, Hamish Rotstein did not return calls.
The article in The Australian described Greg Mitchell as a veteran of the labour hire industry who in 2007 had been banned from managing corporations for three years for his role in failed companies.
A company search of Rush Corporation reveals that Mitchell was appointed director of the company in May this year. Prior to that Rush had two directors for a period of three months – Ben Mitchell and Andrew Grace.
None of these individuals are accused of any wrongdoing. On his Linked In profile Grace lists one of the accused Plutus conspirators – Jay Onley – amongst his connections but then so do many in the insolvency space, including Bellamy and Howell and, in the interests of full disclosure, SiN.