Veritas pair ousted by RSM duo

RSM duo

RSM’s Frank Lo Pilato.

Whilst INO’s not intentionally focussing on Veritas Advisory, the firm certainly seems to have its cup full in recent times and this week we came across the interesting case of Peter O’Brien Constructions Pty Ltd, which recently passed from the control of Veritas principal Steve Naidenov to the RSM duo of Frank Lo Pilato and Jonathan Colbran.

One of the most notable elements of this matter relates to referrers. In their DIRRI dated 18/09/2017, Veritas pair David Iannuzzi and Steve Naidenov report that the job was referred to them by Mr Scott Kitas of MacPherson Property Holdings Pty Ltd.

As can be read elsewhere in today’s edition of INO, Socrates ‘Scott’ Kitas appears to be closely associated with Al Constantinidis, an accountant with a flair for getting involved in what might be described as the more colourful end of the distressed asset space.

Iannuzzi and Naidenov declared that this was the first referral they had received from MacPherson Property Holdings Pty Ltd but two weeks before Naidenov visited director Peter O’Brien in the final days of August 2017 to seek information in relation to a possible formal appointment, Colbran was approached by Ashlee Berry, then a senior associate at Backhouse Legal, the solicitors working for a creditor that had commenced winding up proceedings against Peter O’Brien Constructions.

Several days later Lo Pilato and Colbran provided a consent to act as joint & several court appointed liquidators.

Months passed, emails were exchanged but no appointment materialised. Meanwhile, the Veritas pair were appointed voluntary administrators (VAs) of Peter O’Brien Constructions on September 15, 2017. Not long afterwards a Deed of Company Arrangement (DoCA) was executed.

More months passed. According to their DIRRI Lo Pilato and Colbran were approached again in  March of 2018, this time by a different law firm acting for the director seeking their appointment as joint & several liquidators.

They signed a consent to act on March 13, 2018 but then received an enquiry from a different lawyer from the same firm making the same enquiry.

They signed another consent to act as joint & several liquidators on April 27, 2018 but declared that they never received any pre-appointment remuneration despite all the phone calls and emails and advice provided.

Then in May this year Naidenov held his final meeting as liquidator. The minutes are illuminating. The liquidator he said, “will consider seeking legal advice as to the manor (sic) of how the proxy forms were precured (sic), noting that Mr Peter O’Brien had contacted creditors direct (sic), providing the creditors with a pre-filled proxy form”.

We attempted to contact Lo Pilato several times prior to publication in a bid to better understand why the Veritas pair were ousted and whether their predecessor’s roles as either VAs, deed administrators or liquidators were being scrutinised but he didn’t return calls.

About the Author

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.

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