Dick Smith CEO Threatened To Dump Deloitte Over Questionable Payments
Former Dick Smith CEO Nick Abboud has come under heavy fire in the witness box today as barristers put it to him that he was deflecting blame to the collapsed retailer’s auditors for questionable activity in relation to O&A payments.
At one point it was claimed that Abboud wanted to sack Deloitte for not supporting the bookkeeping of O&A payments.
Abboud has insisted that he relied on Deloitte for accounting advice; however, barristers for the plaintiffs brought up evidence that they claimed suggested Abboud had spurned Deloitte’s advice at several points in favour of the company’s own staff.
In particular, Abboud was pointed to an email in which barristers alleged he discussed sacking Deloitte if the auditors did not toe the Dick Smith line.
Abboud was asked several times – to the objections of the defendants’ barristers – whether the statement in the email regarding “changing companies” referred to Deloitte, but he repeatedly pointed to the following paragraph to say he wanted “consistency and principles”.
The planitiffs’ counsel accused him of evading the question and refusing to provide straight answers, saying the meaning of the statement was obvious and that an “honest and truthful person” giving evidence would answer that he was in fact contemplating changing auditors at the time.
Central to the plaintiffs’ argument today was that Abboud was eager to deflect responsibility in the court case – to Michael Potts, Deloitte, and others – but was taking clear responsibility and giving firm directions when running Dick Smith, a claim Abboud denied.