Friday, 23 August 2013

Mark Levi "persistently dishonest" - CALDB

THE decision by the Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board (CALDB) to strip Mark Darren Levi of his liquidator's registration has been upheld after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) rejected for a second time the Titan Advisory founder's application for a stay.

In judgement published this week, AAT deputy president Robin Handley found no reason to grant a stay, or agree to Levi's request that the CALDB decision be kept confidential. (See the full judgement here)

Levi's lawyer, John Sutton of Armstrong Legal, said today his client would apply to have CALDB's decision set aside at a full hearing of the ATT. Levi denies the allegations that lay at the heart of CALDB's deliberations.

CALDB ruled Levi unfit to hold a liquidator's registration on July 2, 2013 after a three day hearing last May.

The CALDB hearing stemmed from an application to the board by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on October 12, 2012.

ASIC sought the cancellation of Levi's registration as a liquidator, alleging that in April 2009 and again in October 2009, while working for Pitt Street liquidator Jamieson Louttit & Associates (JLA), Levi used funds from Biseja, a company in receivership, to pay his personal tax.

According to the ASIC allegations, Levi falsified the records of Biseja to disguise these payments and only admitted to what he was alleged to have done in October 2010, after he had just left JLA.

ASIC is also alleging that Levi has, since that admission, falsely asserted that the payments were made with Jamieson Louttit’s knowledge and consent. Louttit denies the assertion.

Why two years elapsed between Levi's alleged admissions and ASIC's application to CALDB has not been explained.

CALDB handed down its initial determination on June 14, 2013. The following was included in a summary of its findings.

"... Suffice to say that we have made findings that Mr Levi engaged in serious acts of dishonesty in misappropriating funds, in falsification of records in order to disguise misappropriation and in putting forward a false version of events after having admitted the misappropriation to Mr Louttit.

"Mr Levi’s dishonesty was not an isolated lapse, but involved dishonesty on a number of occasions over a period of time.

"We have found that Mr Levi has been persistently dishonest, that it is inappropriate to assume (and the community could not be confident) that his conduct will not recur and that his actions show that he has a character which is fundamentally inimical to fitness to practice as a liquidator."

Levi has fought hard to keep the matter confidential. Through the course of 2013 he's made applications in the Federal and Supreme courts seeking stays to prevent the CALDB hearing and orders preventing publication of the decision or any details of his application.

He has argued publication of the CALDB decision or subsequent judgements could be prejudicial to any criminal proceedings he might face.

SiN understands that at time of writing no brief of evidence had been provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

Nevertheless Federal and Supreme Court judges who have heard Levi's applications have repeatedly referred to the likelihood of criminal proceedings.

Whether Levi faces fraud charges may turn on BAS statements from 2008, the originals of which were not produced during the CALDB hearing.

His legal representative at the AAT hearing told the tribunal the fact CALDB did not consider the original BAS statement had denied Levi "procedural fairness" and that if Louttit was not deceived, the main allegation of fraud "falls away".

Apparently a forensic expert who examined the BAS statement for ASIC declared that no correction fluid or "white out" was used on the statement.

However the expert did confirm that entries at the heart of the allegation that Louttit had been deceived by Levi, had been altered.

CALDB published the decision to deregister Levi in the Commonwealth Gazette on August 22. (See CALDB's gazette entry )

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