The Tax Commissioner’s bid for a Federal Court inquiry into the conduct of liquidator David Iannuzzi is an eyebrow raiser for several reasons.
Documents made public by the Federal Court reveal that the tax boss wants an inquiry; an order requiring the Veritas Advisory principal to pay compensation; and an order banning him from holding a liquidator’s registration for 10 years.
As reported in SiN earlier this week Iannuzzi intends to vigorously defend himself against the CoT’s yet to be tested claims. He declined to risk compromising his defence by divulging details and SiN makes no suggestion of wrongdoing.
But when if ever has the Commissioner of Taxation (CoT) sought to ban a registered liquidator for 10 years? Isn’t that ASIC’s gig? And why is the tax commando not utilising its in-house legal firepower to try and take their quarry down?
At yesterday’s brief case management hearing two barristers including David McClure SC were on hand to prosecute the CoT’s interests.
Behind them in the public gallery loitered Minter Ellison’s Michael Hughes, in close proximity to one of the tax office’s key anti-phoenix operatives.
A barrow load of documents have already been filed by the plaintiffs which means a great many hours of Minter’s moments have been meticulously booked. This pursuit will be costly and the outcome uncertain.
Yesterday Justice Jacquie Gleeson made various orders including that Iannuzzi file and serve points of defence by 30 November 2017 and that the parties to be ready for hearing on the inquiry application on April 23, 2018.
Also yesterday, ASIC advised that it had extracted voluntary undertakings (VUs) from three liquidators who’ve fallen short of adequately complying with the liquidator cop’s Published Notices Website and Lodgement project. Never mind the phoenix activity, i’s are going undotted.
The three were Darwin’s Trevor Angus of Angus Accountants, Dennis Offermans, of the insolvency firm, Offermans Partners and Giovanni Carrello, of BRI Ferrier WA. Of them the VU of real significance attached to Angus, who has voluntarily undertaken to rub himself out by writing to ASIC requesting that his registration be cancelled.
By SiN’s calculations this will leave the Northern Territory with just two registered liquidators – Rodgers Reidy’s Stuart Reid and Allan Garraway. Good to see ASIC policing the fringes. But where is the liquidator’s regulator on major cases?
The CoT’s case against Iannuzzi includes allegations of phoenix activity involving certain shareholders of Banq Accountants & Advisers, none of whom at this stage appear to be subject to any proceedings.
ASIC and the ATO are members of the multi agency anti-phoenix taskforce. Part of the taskforce’s brief is information sharing. A great deal of information has been filed in the CoT’s case already.
But how much has been shared with ASIC, the body with statutory responsibility for regulating liquidators? And if the sharing has been voluminous, why isn’t ASIC, which is now to receive an extra $10 million a year in industry funding, taking the lead? The regulator, which like ARITA has been served in the Iannuzzi proceedings, declined to respond on the basis that the matter was before the courts.