QLD - Aus of the Year
QLD - Aus of the Year

Fraudster pulls out of prestigious awards


She's the convicted fraudster who launched a charity helping homeless women and made the shortlist of winners for Queensland's Entrepreneur Of The Year sponsored by accounting mob EY.

But Rochelle Courtenay, head of Share The Dignity, abruptly pulled out of the awards just a day before Wednesday night's gala dinner at the Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane.

Caught off guard, red-faced EY spin doctors hastily recalled an embargoed list of the eight finalists, all of whom but Courtenay will now go on to compete at the national awards ceremony in late October.

The debacle follows last week's revelation that Courtenay, who has gained nationwide acclaim for her efforts to provide sanitary products to the poor, spent six months in jail in 2010 for defrauding her former employer.

The Brisbane-based woman pleaded guilty to ripping off $92,120 from a beauty supplies business between 2005 and 2008 because she felt her salary was inadequate.

Known as "the pad lady,'' Courtenay launched Share The Dignity in 2015 and has collected more than 1.9 million packets of sanitary items, distributed handbags full of essential goods and designed a "dignity vending machine'' to dispense the products.

Corporates and celebrities have embraced the concept, which has attracted more than 4100 volunteers. Woolworths has come on-board as a sponsor, donating 5 cents per sanitary product it sells nationally.

Courtenay has also twice been nominated as Queensland's Australian of the Year, most recently in 2018.

More than 600 guests packed Brisbane City Hall in May for a high tea fundraiser for Share The Dignity, with Courtenay posing for a happy snap with Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.


Jackie Trad and Rochelle Courtenay.
Jackie Trad and Rochelle Courtenay.


Courtenay, who has twice changed her name in the past, did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, the remaining EY finalists include Danielle Lewis, whose Brisbane firm Scrunch Enterprises connects companies with appropriate social influencers, and Rob and Krista Watkins, whose Natural Evolution Foods converts fruits and vegetables to powder in just minutes.

Dr Glen Richards, the former Shark Tank star and investor who launched the Greencross vet empire, took home a gong as a "champion of entrepreneurship''.


Was Brisbane-based Corporate Travel Management looking to shield itself on Wednesday from vigorous questioning of its annual results?

It sure appeared that way when CTM boss Jamie Pherous and his new CFO, Neale O'Connell, only fielded questions on a conference call from four analysts, all of whom have buy recommendations on the stock.

Corporate Travel Management managing director Jamie Pherous.
Corporate Travel Management managing director Jamie Pherous.

Notably absent was anyone from Morgans, which underwrote the 2010 float and has been relentlessly bullish on CTM. Indeed analyst Nick Atkinson dispatched an upbeat assessment to clients just a day earlier.

The curious silence from Morgans grew deafening yesterday as the hours ticked by with CTM shares losing ground despite the company posting a 12 per cent lift in net profit to $86.2 million.

Meanwhile, critics quickly started poking holes in the accounts.

Among them were hedge fund mob VGI Partners, which has shorted the stock and alleged last October that CTM has a raft of accounting irregularities. CTM has refuted the claims.

"No amount of window dressing can cover up the cracks in the Corporate Travel accounts now,'' VGI's Doug Tynan said after listening to the conference call.

"It's not lost on experienced investors that the purported cashflow conversion of more than 100 per cent was simply propped up by holding off on payments to suppliers and employees in the second half, which were the lowest in six years.

"Back then the company was 15 per cent of its current size. This doesn't pass the sniff test. Throw in weak guidance and (allegations) of accounting anomalies and the Corporate Travel spiel is set to continue losing altitude."

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