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EXCLUSIVE:Smokin Gun Email Could Bring Down Dick Smith Executives

EXCLUSIVE:Smokin Gun Email Could Bring Down Dick Smith Executives

Australian Securities and Investment Commission are investigating whether a $2M underpayment of Dick Smith staff may have been deliberately hidden by senior executives of Dick Smith who were also responsible for the $400M collapse of the consumer electronics retailer.

The smoking gun that could bring down former executives of Dick Smith is an email between former chief financial officer Michael Potts and former CEO Nick Aboud, the email was discovered when Ferrier Hodgson staff went searching through an email database.
 
According to Ferrier Hodgson sources, working for the receivers, who are currently investigating the books of Dick Smith, both Potts and Nick Aboud have been questioned about the email, which indicates that certain Dick Smith executives were aware of the discrepancies, that dated back to Woolworths’ ownership of the electronics chain before the business was bought by private equity form Anchorage Capital and sold to investors through a $520 million public float.
 
The issue for ASIC investigators is why the discrepancies were not disclosed in any financial filings for Dick Smith and why the market was not informed of the discrepancies when discovered by Dick Smith management. 
 
Yesterday Ferrier Hodgson announced that Michael Potts employment with Dick Smith had been terminated. 
 
Aboud who has already been questioned by Australian Securities and Investment Commission investigators is also set to be questioned by the Australian Tax Office. 
 
ChannelNews understands that certain allegations have been put to Aboud and that as a result of certain questions Aboud has sought, time via his solicitors, to prepare documentation for investigators. 
 
We understand that a meeting between ASIC and ATO investigators has been delayed until April. 
 
Yesterday Ferrier Hodgson chose to selectively reveal to the Australian that 3,200 current and former staff may be owed as much as $2 million in entitlements, dating back as far as 2010 when the chain was under the control of Woolworths.
 
They made no mention of the smoking gun email.
 
According to Ferrier Hodgson partner James Stewart who has not returned calls to ChannelNews staff may have missed out on their full leave loading as a result of the “incorrect application of the relevant industrial award.”
Woolworths have said that they are now conducting their own analysis of payments to staff, to ensure that other miscalculation have incurred anywhere else across its business.
 
At this stage ASIC hasn’t initiated a formal investigation however they are looking at the float prospectus as well as Dick Smith’s most recent audited full year financial results, which were signed off by Deloitte.
Ferrier Hodgson has referred the matter to the Fair Work Ombudsman as well as the Shop.
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