Australian money, currency or cash
Australian money, currency or cash

‘Kickbacks and bogus expenses’: ASIC set to pounce

IS THE corporate cop poised to pounce on a former credit union boss now working in Brisbane?

City Beat spies report that an ASIC move against Lyndon Kingston appears to be imminent.

They tell us the regulator has conducted interviews over the past few months with a number of current and former senior executives and other key players at the Bananacoast Community Credit Union, where Kingston spent almost 10 years as boss.

Kingston was fired for "serious misconduct'' in late 2017, with the lender later alleging in court documents that he masterminded a multimillion-dollar racket to improperly enrich himself through sham payments, kickbacks and bogus expense claims.

Australian money, currency or cash
Australian money, currency or cash

Kingston sued the credit union last year over an alleged $3.4 million in unpaid bonuses.

The company then filed a counterclaim alleging that he took $2.5 million in kickbacks from "uncommercial'' contracts, approved a $345,000 "sham redundancy'' payout to his wife and claimed $91,000 in fraudulent "living away from home'' expenses.

That case was discontinued earlier this year but the credit union's lawsuit against his spouse, Anna, remains before the Brisbane Supreme Court. The couple have denied any wrongdoing.

Kingston, who is now employed at accounting and financial advisory firm HMW Group, did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.

 

DRAGGING ON

The 12-year battle over New Hope's controversial proposed Stage 3 expansion of its New Acland coal mine on the Darling Downs seems certain to drag on.

Farmers, anti-coal activists and other critics of the $900 million project near Toowoomba announced yesterday (MONDAY) that they have sought special leave to apply to the High Court to reverse a legal setback suffered last month.

The Queensland Court of Appeal ruled against the Oakey Coal Action Alliance and decided the case did not need to return to the Land Court.

New Acland Coal Mine
New Acland Coal Mine

But David Morris, head of the Environmental Defenders Office spearheading the fight, said the ruling "left a big question mark'' over the planned mine and he said opponents wants a fresh hearing in the Land Court.

"Our clients are fighting to protect some of the best agricultural land in Australia and seeking to have a say over effects on their precious groundwater,'' Morris said.

New Hope top guns, who have already laid off 150 workers, remain furious the project has still not received the green light from Mines Minister Anthony Lynham.

 

BRISBANE ANGLE

Wouldn't you know that there's a very Brisbane angle to the hopeless spin doctoring of the Westpac banking scandal?

It turns out that Carolyn McCann, who has copped a ton of grief for the bungled response to the shocking Austrac allegations, is a QUT grad who later cut her teeth at two of the city's PR outfits in the 90s.

Yep, she spent nearly two years at Rowland before clocking on almost seven years at The Phillips Group.

Carolyn McCann
Carolyn McCann

Despite the criticism aimed her way, Rowland chief Geoff Rodgers described her Monday as "a very good operator'', while Phillips boss Stephanie Paul declined to comment.

McCann, who has worked at Westpac since 2013, was elevated last year to "group executive, customer & corporate relations'' on a nice little earner of $1.22 million.

But the bank's inept media strategy, which failed to get out in front of the Austrac crisis, is arguably the worst in corporate Australia since Ardent Leisure's woeful handling of the Dreamworld disaster in late 2016.

 

JUMPING SHIP

Speaking of PR, a top spin doctor in the Brisbane Lord Mayor's office for almost a decade has jumped ship to the private sector.

Yes, Nick Kennedy joins media and communications group Three Plus this week, where he'll be working alongside the likes of Michael Lyons, who came aboard in September after five years of spruiking for the Springfield Land Corporation.

Meanwhile, Three Plus co-founder Barton Green will stand back from the day-to-day running of the firm starting next month when he takes up his new job as CEO of the Committee For Brisbane. He'll remain as non-executive chairman.



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