FEG boss promises “big year” after audit office tick

big year anticipated by FEG recovery boss

Anticipating a “big year” – FEG Recovery Unit Director Henry Carr

For those in the profession who’ve yet to endure an encounter with the FEG Recovery Unit or are in the middle of a melee with FEG over fees and the like, take heed of the following comment made yesterday by Henry Carr, Director of the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Recovery Team.

“I have a great team of experienced accountants and lawyers and with the the support of the industry we have made an ok start,” Carr told SiN. But I am looking forward to a big year next year,” he added.

A big year? Next year? The comment was made in response to the release yesterday by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) of its independent assurance review of the Department of Jobs and Small Business, titled Achieving Value for Money from the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Recovery Program.

Of the various findings which might explain Carr’s confidence, none is perhaps more compelling than the revelation that the ex-Borrelli Walsh litigator and his team have recovered $63.7 million between July 1, 2015 and February 28, 2018.

By contrast the cost of the unit and additional Departmental expenses for the same period totalled $22.6 million.

That’s left net revenue of $41.1 million representing a return to government of 282 per cent, though the report speaks of “16 matters whose outcomes should not be attributed to the FEG Recovery Program due to insufficient nexus, a lack of contemporaneous records or unquantifiable impact such as a positive behavioural outcome”, and that if these are subtracted in line with a “conservative calculation” then the return falls to about 260 per cent.

Nevertheless even the ANAO report couldn’t restrain the expectations Carr must have now the program has proved itself.

“According to budget estimation and costing it was estimated that the ongoing FEG Recovery Program would achieve approximately $11.7 million in net revenue after all costs for 2016–17,” the report said.

“The actual net revenue of $17.5 million generated by the FEG Recovery Program in 2016–17 exceeded the budget estimate.

“The Department of Jobs and Small Business expects strong recovery results to be achieved for 2017–18 on the basis that a number of actions undertaken by the FEG will bring in further additional recoveries in the third and fourth quarters.”

So who in the profession is currently in the firing line? Well there’s McGrathNicol’s Peter AndersonMatthew CaddyJason Preston and now ex-McGrathNicol partner Joe Hayes who are strenuously defending a $3 million claim Carr launched against them in their capacity as receivers of Hastie Group which you can read about at: DoE Sues McGrathNicol Foursome For $3 Million

There’s also a claim for about $500,000 hanging over the head of Jamieson Louttit in his capacity as liquidator of Equada Pty Ltd.

Further we understand, more recovery action against liquidators may soon be commenced in court as negotiations between FEG and various insolvency practitioners fail to reach a resolution. A big year indeed.

About the Author

Peter Gosnell
Sydney Insolvency News illuminates the practice of insolvency in Australia's largest city, highlighting the triumphs and failures of Sydney's registered practitioners and the accounting and legal professionals who work with them. SiN is produced by Peter Gosnell, former business editor and senior business reporter at The Daily Telegraph newspaper. During a decade-long career, your correspondent reported on such notable corporate collapses as HIH, One.Tel, Westpoint and Fincorp as well as some of the nation's highest profile bankruptcies and the investigations and prosecutions arising from Australia's most notorious instances of white collar crime.

3 Comments on "FEG boss promises “big year” after audit office tick"

  1. An ANO ‘assurance review’ looks at the financials, and ‘value’ for money. There are other reviews than can be made of government agencies and their individual officers, for example as professional lawyers, and accountants, as officers under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and in their compliance with the Model Litigant policy. A review of the exercise of FEG powers under the Corporations Act in the context of an insolvency, where all creditors’ interests are important, would be interesting.

  2. Les Williams - Subcontractors Alliance | 16 May 2018 at 12:57 pm | Reply

    Might be a blow to those who design, facilitate and conceal illegal phoenix operations as a reliance on FEG is deliberately used to compensate employees entitlements. Where applicable employees are deliberately transferred to the ‘old company’ to take advantage of FEG.

  3. What a joke. On the Ostwald Bros matter FEG has protected PwC, despite them continuing to trade the business 5 months after it went into liquidation. The COI called for a meeting of creditors to vote on replacing PwC and FEG wrote to the COI stating that it did not support a meeting of creditors being held. Seems FEG is happy to stand up to smaller insolvency firms but won’t take on the biggest of the big 4 that just so happens to get tens of millions in government contracts. Perhaps a royal commission into the link between government and large professional service firms?

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