Tuesday 1 September 2015

Ex-liquidator avoids incarceration

Ex-liquidator Geoffrey Stewart Turner has avoided gaol time after a magistrate last week handed down a raft of suspended sentences in the NSW Local Court.

Turner pleaded guilty to 11 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and two counts of obtaining money by deception on July 15 this year. Each count carries a two year term of imprisonment.

Last Friday Local Court Magistrate Joanne Keogh suspended the custodial component of each sentence, ordering instead that Turner enter into a good behaviour bond for a period of two years.

The charges followed an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) which found Turner failed to carry out his duties as a liquidator after reviewing 60 external administrations as part of its proactive liquidator compliance program.

The ASIC investigation saw Turner deregistered as a liquidator in late 2012 after entering into an enforceable undertaking with ASIC. Among other things the EU required him to request ASIC cancel his liquidator's registration.

According to the EU, Turner must never apply to be re-registered as a liquidator and never perform duties or functions that are the exclusive preserve of registered liquidators.

ASIC's investigation commenced in earnest in 2010 after Turner complied with a notice to produce documents relating to 14 external administrations and ASIC examined its own database in relation to another 46 of Turner's external appointments.

The ASIC action also prompted enquiries by the NSW Department of Fair Trading in relation to Southern Districts Radio Cabs Co-operative Limited.

In November 2013, those enquiries, combined with the EU entered into in September 2012, led the Institute of Chartered Accountants' Professional Conduct Tribunal to order that Turner's certificate of public practice as a Chartered Accountant be cancelled.

The conduct also cost Turner his registration as a trustee in bankruptcy. In a statement released yesterday, the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) revealed details of how he had misappropriated funds from a client's account.
"Mr Turner was registered as a trustee on 11 July 1985 and practiced as G.S. Turner and Co. He resigned as trustee on 6 March 2013.

"In 2013, the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) received a complaint from a bankrupt that her superannuation funds were misappropriated by Mr Turner.

"Mr Turner was interviewed by AFSA and he advised that he had returned the funds, however it was found that he misappropriated monies from another account in order to do so.

"Further investigations were undertaken by AFSA which identified deficiencies in the records kept by Mr Turner in relation to personal insolvency and bankruptcy matters administered by him.

"The investigations found that Mr Turner had also misappropriated an additional $150,128.84 by withdrawing remuneration in excess of his entitlement in 12 administrations between 31 July 2009 and 1 February 2013.

"This resulted in a referral being made by AFSA to the NSW Police."

The AFSA statement quoted Magistrate Keogh as saying Turner is now receiving psychological treatment for severe depression and counselling for rehabilitation.

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