Monday 6 July 2015

Jirsch manager receives 'severe reprimand' over Ariff

Tina Battye
TUCKED away in the July edition of Acuity magazine is the news that Jirsch Sutherland senior manager Tina Battye has been severely reprimanded by the Professional Conduct Tribunal of the organisation of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)

The conduct hearing took place on February 19. The Tribunal's recently announced decision refers to various breaches "in the course of carrying out her professional duties during her prior employment as evidenced by her testimony during the course of proceedings in the District Court of New South Wales".

Battye has had her membership of the CAANZ cancelled for a period of three years and been billed $2,900 towards the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. The relevant conduct took place almost a decade ago when Battye worked for Stuart Ariff Insolvency Administrators.

After securing an indemnity from prosecution from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Battye became in 2011 the star witness for the criminal prosecution case against struck-off liquidator Stuart Karim Ariff.

During the hearing Battye admitted inserting false information into a balance sheet for a family company, HR Cook Investments, to which Ariff had been appointed administrator.

Battye told the court she did so under duress and on Ariff's instructions. She said she regretted staying at the company after realising Ariff was using funds from HR Cook to fund legal expenses pertaining to a separate administration.

''I had worked with Mr Ariff for a number of years and notwithstanding his actions I still felt some loyalty to him and to his staff,'' Battye told the court.

''With the benefit of hindsight I really wish I had left at that stage,'' she said. ''I think I was just enclosed in this bubble and this environment that I guess I just was not thinking clearly at the time.''

During his sentencing hearing the court heard that Ariff, by then in custody, told a prison doctor that he blamed Battye for 13 suspect transfers of funds and the lodging of six documents with ASIC containing falsified information.

The court had earlier rejected this defence, ruling the breaches were committed for the express purpose of benefitting Ariff's own companies.

If Battye chooses to reapply for membership of the CAANZ after the three year cancellation period expires she must first undertake the Capstone module of the Chartered Accountants Program or its equivalent. The Tribunal also ruled that she provide other, unspecified evidence of maintaining ongoing professional competence.

Following his conviction in September 2011, Ariff was sentenced on December 19, 2011 to six years gaol.

He was released on parole on March 25 this year after completing the non-parole component of his conviction under Federal law for criminal fraud. Following his release, the NSW State Parole Authority (SPA) transferred his parole order to Victoria.

Under the terms of the SPA order he must refrain from engaging in any activity, paid or unpaid, involving the control of money or assets of other people or organisations.

Baring any breach of his parole, Ariff will complete the final component of his conviction in September 2017.

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