01/07/2021 - 14:38

Perth director facing jail over 'phoenixing'

01/07/2021 - 14:38

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The founder of WA labour hire company Ochre Workforce Solutions could be facing jail time after being charged for allegedly engaging in phoenixing activity.

Perth director facing jail over 'phoenixing'
Ms Pellew established Ochre in 2010, Australia’s first dedicated Aboriginal labour hire company. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The founder of WA labour hire company Ochre Workforce Solutions could be facing jail time if convicted of engaging in phoenixing activity before her companies collapsed with debts in the order of $4.5 million.

This afternoon, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) confirmed it had charged Joanne Jennifer Pellew with five counts of breaching her directors’ duties, one count of making a false or misleading statement to ASIC and four counts of managing a corporation while disqualified.

The charges, which carry a maximum penalty of up to 2000 penalty units or five years imprisonment, follow an investigation by ASIC and are understood to relate to Ms Pellew’s involvement in three labour hire companies, including Ochre Training, Ochre Workforce Solutions and Ochre People.

In a statement, ASIC alleged that between April 2018 and June 2018, Ms Pellew engaged in illegal phoenixing activity by using her position as a director to transfer more than $739,600 in cash, the business’ assets and the lease of a business premises from Ochre Training to Ochre Workforce Solutions.

ASIC further alleged that Ms Pellew intentionally omitted information on a report to Ochre Training’s liquidator.

It is also alleged that Ms Pellew executed three labour hire agreements and entered payment plans with the Australian Taxation Office on behalf of Ochre People between May 2019 and February 2020, despite having been disqualified from managing corporations for five years.

Ms Pellew established Ochre in 2010, Australia’s first dedicated Aboriginal labour hire company, and led the company up until its collapse in 2019.

Liquidators found her management to be a contributing factor in the collapse, with Ms Pellew having allegedly failed to maintain proper financial records and pay taxes.

Ms Pellew is expected to appear before the Perth Magistrates Court on July 30.

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