ASIC launches Federal Court inquiry into Worrells partner

ASIC launches Federal Court inquiry into Worrells partner

The man behind the liquidation of the Members Alliance Group of companies is in the crosshairs of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

As part of the Commonwealth's Serious Financial Crime Taskforce efforts, ASIC filed an application with the Federal Court seeking an inquiry into the conduct of Jason Bettles.

Bettles was the former liquidator of the Members Alliance Group of companies and is currently a partner at Worrells Solvency and Accounting, a Gold Coast-based business with a national footptint.

The corporate regulator has asked the Federal Court to inquire into Bettles' conduct during his administration of the Members Alliance Group of companies, particularly whether he failed to maintain independence, did not exercise the degree of care and diligence required of a liquidator, or failed to discharge his obligations as a liquidator.

Members Alliance was a Gold Coast business which went into external administration in July 2016.

In March 2016 The City of Gold Coast issued an eviction notice to the company, alleging it owed $1.1 million in back rent. The company occupied 3500sqm across five floors of The Rocket building at Robina.

At the time Council CEO Dale Dickson said it was unfortunate that the employees of the company were put in jeopardy.

"Unfortunately the tenants haven't done the right thing by city ratepayers," Dickson said at the time.

"We have tried to work with Member's Alliance for a number of months now and we had a meeting as late as Wednesday last week.

"Unfortunately despite the city's best efforts we have got to the point where we have to bite the bullet on behalf of ratepayers and issue the notice to vacate." 

On 13 July 2017 Bettles and Raj Khatri of Worrells sought and obtained orders from the Supreme Court to be replaced as liquidators of a number of Members Alliance Group companies by Grant Thornton.

In April 2018 ASIC obtained a freezing order to restrain the director of Members Alliance Group, Deborah Malborough, from dealing with property.

The watchdog secured the order because it suspected Malborough may have funded or maintained the property with money obtained from the Members Alliance Group.

The company allegedly fleeced victims of millions of dollars through a cold-calling scheme by signing them up for houses that were never finished.

The husband of Deborah Malborough, Richard Malborough, was also restrained from selling, charging, mortgaging or otherwise dealing with a Rolls Royce Wraith 665C black coupe 2014.

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