Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Levi exposed - judge says criminal prosecution "likely"

MARK Darrren Levi has been exposed as the Sydney liquidator alleged to have taken more than $90,000 from a company in receivership to pay his tax.

Levi, who denies the allegations, had until yesterday been protected by a Supreme Court non-publication order.

That order was imposed while he appealed an earlier judgement which had dismissed his application for a stay of a disciplinary hearing before the Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board (CALDB).

The appeal proceedings, held before Justice John Basten, were dismissed on May 2, 2013 and in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Stephen Rothman agreed with ASIC's application to have his order of April 3, 2013, suppressing the Titan Advisory managing director's identity, set aside.

“The court orders the non-publication order issued on April 3, 2013 be vacated,” Justice Rothman said, adding: “the suppression orders are sought in order to ensure the plaintiff has a fair criminal trial, if and when one commences.

“The fact that the criminal trial has not commenced is a factor to be taken into account in this exercise. Nevertheless, as stated in the first judgement, I consider a criminal prosecution likely”, Justice Rothman concluded. (Read today's judgement)

CALDB heard the case on May 6, 2013 but Levi did not appear, although his accuser did. The board is yet to release its decision and non-publication orders in force elsewhere prevent further reportage on this aspect.

The allegations were brought to ASIC’s attention in October 2010 by Pitt Street liquidator Jamieson Louttit. Levi had been had been working for Louttit on the receivership of Biseja Pty Ltd.

According to Justice Rothman's April 3 judgement, two payments comprising more than $90,000 were allegedly transferred from Biseja accounts and used to pay a personal tax bill.

ASIC's investigation led the regulator to pursue disciplinary proceedings and Levi has been fighting to avoid the CALDB hearing since last year, arguing publication of an adverse finding would prejudice any potential criminal proceedings, proceedings which Justice Rothman described in his judgement of April 3 as being: "on the cards".

A search of the records of Biseja Pty Limited shows that on May 9, 2013, Louttit filed a 492 Request for Correction form with ASIC in relation to the statement of accounts filed for Biseja on March 30, 2009.

The correction form includes an annexure listing two payments for the Biseja receiver’s remuneration for the period to September 2008, payments totalling $90,454.10.

While there is no suggestion Louttit has done anything other than correct the record, his timing is unfortunate.

Louttit told SiN the correction "relates to the 1st remuneration payment in the receivership which was paid to me directly rather than paid from the assets subsequently realised.

"It was brought to my attention, was an oversight and has been appropriately correctly by the lodgement of the 492."

Levi was not prepared to comment given the review of CALDB’s undisclosed decision is still pending and ASIC’s investigation ongoing.

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