May 182017
 

professional-associationA new professional association for Australian insolvency practitioners  – named the Association of Independent Insolvency Practitioners (AIIP) – has been formed and is currently endeavouring to recruit as members those registered liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy who work as sole practitioners or in small firms.

In an email circular on 4 May 2017 (see below), Nicholas Crouch, a Sydney liquidator and registered trustee in bankruptcy, acting for the AIIP, stated that “80 of the 350 small firm liquidators and trustees in Australia have joined AIIP”. The annual membership fee has been set at just $20.

Also, the AIIP plans to create – for use in company liquidations, voluntary administrations and receiverships and in personal bankruptcy – sets of  precedent or pro forma letters, forms, checklists, etc.,  that fulfil the requirements of the new insolvency legislation. It estimates that the price per practitioner will be about $2,000.  This is far less than amounts charged by existing suppliers (CORE IPS and CCH).

It is not clear whether the AIIP sees itself as an alternative or an adjunct to the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (ARITA), which is the peak body representing insolvency practitioners.  ARITA describes itself as “Australia’s leading organisation for restructuring, insolvency and turnaround professionals.”  Recently ARITA has greatly enhanced its power and prestige as a result of insolvency legislation classing it as an “industry body” and giving it an important role in the official registration  of  liquidators and bankruptcy trustees.

But it seems a significant number of insolvency practitioners are not happy with the direction that ARITA has taken. Dissatisfaction with the association  relates to  a perception that it is dominated by large insolvency firms  (supposedly leading to a focus on issues that are of interest to them),  its decision to admit lawyers, bankers and academics as members, and its high membership fee.

Text of AIIP email to liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy

Dear Fellow Liquidator/Trustee in Bankruptcy

A new liquidator’s club has been established. The objective of the Association of Independent Insolvency Practitioners (“AIIP”) is to encourage small insolvency firms to collaborate and develop best practice procedures and precedents for its members.

To date, 80 of the 350 small firm liquidators and trustees in Australia have joined AIIP.

AIIP is a not for profit association.

Membership of AIIP is limited to registered liquidators and bankruptcy trustees.

I invite you to join AIIP by contacting Stephen Hathway or Ginette Muller as follows:
[deleted]

The annual membership is $20 and an application form is attached.

Discussion groups have been established in Sydney & Brisbane and AIIP hopes to roll out new discussion groups in each capital city as soon as practicable.

New Precedents For Your Firm

AIIP has a committee that is developing a set of liquidation, VA, receivership & bankruptcy precedents that will be compliant with the new laws.

AFSA & ASIC have agreed to consider, but not endorse, the AIIP precedents when they are finalised.

AIIP members will be able to purchase and immediately use the new precedents or use the AIIP precedents as a guide when amending their own existing precedents.

The projected cost of the precedents is uncertain, but my preliminary estimate is about $2k per member.

I am hopeful the costs can be reduced through increasing the AIIP’s membership. I encourage you to invite other small firm insolvency practitioners to join AIIP.

If you wish to offer assistance to this project please advise me.

ASIC & AFSA Review Of AIIP Precedents

On 25 November 2016, Senator Williams assisted the AIIP by asking the ASIC Chairman and 3 ASIC Commissioners who were present at the Federal Government’s Joint Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, if ASIC would assist AIIP with our precedents project.

Senator WILLIAMS:  I have a couple of questions, Mr Price, on insolvency. With the new insolvency laws, every insolvency firm must update its precedents and templates. This is a massive and costly task. I know of a group of 40 independents, a small firm of liquidators. Small firms are creating one set of documents that they will all use as templates. It is an industry first. This will save ASIC work. Is ASIC prepared to work with this group to develop these templates?

ASIC Commissioner Price responded as follows:

Mr Price:  Certainly. We would be happy to discuss with groups that are thinking about that.
….
AIIP is very grateful for the assistance of Senator Williams, ASIC & AFSA.

AIIP recognises this is a historic opportunity for all small firm Insolvency practitioners to work with the regulators to produce best practice documents which will assist both the regulators and the small firm insolvency practitioners by raising the standard of practice and reducing the cost of compliance.

ARITA has declined to work with AIIP on this project.

CCH is in preliminary discussions with AIIP and they may offer their assistance with the precedent project.

Expressions of Interest

Kindly advise me by return email if you are interested in purchasing the AIIP precedents ….

 


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Australian Bankruptcy Laws commencing 1 March 2017

 Insolvency Law, Insolvency practices, Personal Bankruptcy, Regulation  Comments Off on Australian Bankruptcy Laws commencing 1 March 2017
Feb 172017
 

Some of the changes to the Australia’s bankruptcy legislation approved when the Insolvency Law Reform Act was passed in 2016 will commence on 1 March 2017. The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), the regulator of the Bankruptcy Act, has issued a table listing those changes and comparing them with the existing provisions. Set out below is a copy of that table. (The original is available for download from AFSA.)

————————————————————————————

Comparative Table (Bankruptcy tranche 1 – commencement date 1 March 2017) re Insolvency Law Reform Act.

Table comparing the provisions of the Insolvency Practice Schedule (Bankruptcy) that are to commence on 1 March 2017 with existing provisions of the Bankruptcy Act

Schedule provision
Current Bankruptcy Act provision
Comment

10-5: Inspector-General (IG) must work cooperatively with Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in performing functions and exercising powers

No equivalent

Requirement for the IG to work cooperatively with ASIC applies in relation to persons who are, have been or may become both registered trustees under the Bankruptcy Act and registered liquidators under the Corporations Act.

15-1: IG must establish a register of trustees

No direct equivalent

– some trustee information is currently entered on the National Personal Insolvency Index (NPII)

The register will contain information relating to the trustee’s registration, as well as contact details and certain disciplinary action taken against trustees. The information on the register will be publicly available.

20-5: Application to IG for registration as a trustee

154A

An application must be in the approved form and accompanied by the application fee.

20-10: IG may convene committee to consider registration application

155

The committee to consist of the IG; a registered trustee chosen by a prescribed body; and a person appointed by the Minister. The ‘prescribed body’ is the Australian Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association (ARITA).

20-15: IG must refer applications to the committee

No equivalent – 155 assumes referral of applications

The IG must refer an application within two months of receiving it.

20-20: Committee to consider applications

155A

The committee must decide within 45 business days of interviewing an applicant whether he/she should be registered.

20-25: Committee to report

155A(6)

A report must be given to the applicant and the IG.

20-30: Registration as a trustee

155B and 155C

The IG must register an applicant if the committee recommends it and if the applicant has produced evidence in writing that he/she has taken out adequate and appropriate professional indemnity and fidelity insurance, and has paid the registration fee. Registration has effect for three years, and the IG must give the trustee a certificate of registration (may be given electronically).

20-35: Insolvency Practice Rules (IPRs)4 may impose conditions on all registered trustees or on specified class of trustee

No equivalent

Provides for imposition of industry-wide conditions, or conditions limiting the kinds of activity in which a trustee may engage.

Conditions include undertaking at least 40 hours of continuing professional education each year (10 hours of which must be capable of being objectively verified by an competent source) and maintaining adequate professional indemnity and fidelity insurance during any period of suspension of registration in relation to work carried out prior to the suspension taking effect. (see IPR 20-5)

20-40: Application to IG to vary or remove condition on registration

155E(1) to (3)

An application must be made in the approved form, but cannot be made if the trustee’s registration is suspended; if the condition is of a prescribed kind; or in prescribed circumstances.

20-45: IG may convene committee to consider application to vary or remove condition

155E(4) & (5)

The committee to consist of the IG; a registered trustee chosen by a prescribed body, and a person appointed by the Minister. The ‘prescribed body’ is ARITA.

20-50: IG must refer application to the committee

No equivalent – 155E assumes referral of applications

The IG must refer an application within two months of receiving it.

20-55: Committee to consider application

155E(6) & 155F(1)

The committee must interview an applicant unless the applicant agrees otherwise, and within 20 business days thereafter decide whether the condition should be varied or removed.

20-60: Committee to report

155F(2)

A report is to be given to the applicant and the IG.

20-65: Committee’s decision given effect

155F(4)

If the committee recommends removal or variation of condition, the condition is removed or varied in accordance with the decision.

20-70: Application for renewal of registration

155D(2) & (3)

Applications for renewal under 20-70 must be made in the approved form.

20-75: Renewal

155D(1)

The IG shall give a trustee a certificate of registration upon renewal.

20-80: False representation that a person is a registered trustee

No equivalent

A new offence that carries a maximum penalty of 30 penalty units (1 penalty unit = $180).

25-1: Registered trustees to maintain adequate insurance

No equivalent, however undertaking to maintain adequate insurance is a requirement for registration  and failure to do so can be grounds for the IG to issue a ‘show cause’ notice

New offences introduced for failing to maintain adequate professional indemnity and fidelity insurance. Maximum penalty of 1,000 penalty units (for false or reckless failure); or 60 penalty units (for failure in other circumstances – e.g. inadvertent failure). The IG may, by legislative instrument, determine what constitutes adequate insurance.

•  No legislative instrument is currently proposed. Requirements relating to insurance will be outlined in Inspector-General Practice Statement (IGPS) 13

30-1: Annual trustee return

No equivalent

A new requirement for trustees to lodge annual return in the approved form, including evidence that adequate insurance has been maintained. The return must be lodged annually within one month of the anniversary of the date of a trustee’s registration. Maximum penalty for failure to lodge, 5 penalty units.

35-1: Notice of significant events to IG

161A

Introduction of new notifiable events that include:

•  being issued with a bankruptcy notice

•  disqualification from managing a corporation

•  ceasing to have adequate insurance

•  being issued a ‘show cause’ notice in relation to registration as a liquidator, or having registration as a liquidator suspended or cancelled.

The notice must be filed in the approved form within five business days after the trustee could reasonably be expected to be aware that the event has occurred. Maximum penalty for failure to notify is 100 penalty units.

35-5: Notification of other events to IG

No equivalent

Introduction of an obligation to notify in the approved form if information in the annual trustee return or annual administration return is, or becomes, inaccurate in a material particular, and any other events prescribed (in the IPRs). The notice must be lodged within 10 business days after the trustee could reasonably be expected to be aware that the event has occurred. Maximum penalty for failure to notify is 5 penalty units.

40-5: Registered trustee to remedy failure to lodge documents or give

information or documents

No equivalent

The IG may direct a trustee in writing to comply with the requirement to lodge any document or give any information or document required to be given to a person under the Act or to be lodged with the IG. If a trustee fails to comply, the IG can direct the trustee not to accept further appointments and/or apply to the court for an order for compliance.

40-10: Registered trustee to correct inaccuracies etc.

No equivalent

If the IG suspects information provided by a trustee is incomplete or incorrect, the IG can direct the trustee in writing to confirm information is complete or correct, or to provide complete or correct information and/or notify persons of the addition or correction. If a trustee fails to comply, the IG can direct the trustee not to accept further appointments and/or apply to the court for an order for compliance.

40-15: Direction not to accept further appointments

No equivalent

The IG may direct a trustee in writing not to accept further appointments if:

•  the trustee has failed to comply with a direction under 40-5 or 40-10

•  a committee convened to consider the trustee’s ongoing registration decides the IG should give the direction

•  the trustee has failed to comply with a direction under 7070 (to give information to debtor or creditors) or

•  the trustee has failed to comply with a direction under 75-20(1) or (2) to convene a meeting of creditors

–  note 70-70 and 75-20 commence on 1 September 2017.

When given, a direction not to accept further appointments becomes a condition on the trustee’s registration.

40-20: Automatic cancellation of registration

182

Cancellation of registration occurs on the death of a trustee or if he/she becomes an insolvent under administration.

40-25: IG may suspend registration

No equivalent

The IG may suspend a registration where the trustee:

•  is disqualified from managing a corporation

•  ceases to have adequate insurance

•  has had his/her registration as a liquidator suspended or cancelled (other than on request)

•  owes more than the prescribed amount of estate charges

•  fails to comply with a court order to repay remuneration to an estate

•  has been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty or

•  requests the IG to suspend the registration.

40-30: IG may cancel registration

No direct equivalent (155G provides

a trustee may request the IG that registration cease)

The IG may cancel a registration where a trustee requests it, or in circumstances equivalent to those mentioned in relation to the suspension of a registration under 40-25 (except registration as a liquidator must be cancelled, not merely suspended).

40-35: Notice of suspension or cancellation

No equivalent

If the IG decides to suspend (under 40-25) or cancel (under 40-30) a trustee’s registration, the IG must give notice of the decision, along with reasons, to the trustee within 10 business days. The decision comes into effect the day after the notice is given. Failure to give the notice within 10 business days does not affect the validity of the decision.

40-40: IG may give a show- cause notice

155H(1)

A show-cause notice may be issued by the IG where the trustee:

•  no longer has the requisite qualifications, experience, knowledge and abilities

•  has committed an act of bankruptcy

•  is disqualified from managing a corporation

•  ceases to have adequate insurance

•  has breached a condition of registration

•  has breached a provision of the Bankruptcy Act

•  has had his/her registration as a liquidator cancelled or suspended (other than on request)

•  owes more than the prescribed amount of estate charges

•  fails to comply with a court order to repay remuneration to an estate

•  has been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty

•  is permanently or temporarily unable to perform the functions of a trustee due to physical or mental incapacity

•  fails to carry out adequately and properly the duties of a trustee

•  fails to carry out adequately and properly the duties of the administrator of a debt agreement

•  is not a fit and proper person

•  is not resident in Australia or

•  has failed to comply with a standard prescribed in the IPRs.

40-45: IG may convene a committee

155H(2) & (3)

The committee is to consist of the IG; a registered trustee chosen by a prescribed body, and a person appointed by the Minister. The ‘prescribed body’ is ARITA.

40-50: IG may refer matter to a committee

155H(2)

The IG may refer a matter to the committee if no explanation is received within 20 business days after a show-cause notice is given; or if not satisfied by the explanation.

40-55: Decision of the committee

155I(1), (2) & (3)

The committee can decide one or more of the following:

•  the trustee continue to be registered

•  the trustee’s registration be suspended or cancelled

•  the IG direct the trustee not to accept further appointments

•  the trustee be publicly admonished or reprimanded

•  a condition be imposed on the trustee’s registration

•  a condition be imposed on the registration of all other trustees that they not allow the trustee in question to exercise powers or perform functions on their behalf

•  the IG publish specified information in relation to the committee’s decision.

40-60: Committee to report

155I(4)

A report must be given to the registered trustee and the IG.

40-65: IG must give effect to committee’s  decision

155I(6)

The IG must give effect to the decision made by the committee.

40-70: Application to lift or shorten suspension

No equivalent

A trustee may lodge an application with the IG in the approved form to lift, or shorten the period of a suspension.

40-75: IG may convene a committee to consider applications

No equivalent

The committee is to consist of the IG; a registered trustee chosen by a prescribed body; and a person appointed by the Minister. The ‘prescribed body’ is ARITA.

40-80: IG must refer applications to a committee

No equivalent

The IG must refer an application within two months of receiving it.

40-85: Committee to consider applications

No equivalent

The committee must interview an applicant unless the applicant agrees otherwise, and within 10 business days thereafter, decide whether the suspension should be lifted or shortened.

40-90: Committee to report

No equivalent

A report must be given to the applicant and the IG.

40-95: Committee’s decision given effect

No equivalent

If the committee decides to lift or shorten the suspension, the suspension is lifted or shortened in accordance with that decision.

40-100: Notice by industry bodies of possible grounds for disciplinary action

No equivalent

An industry body may lodge with the IG a notice in the approved form stating that it reasonably suspects there are grounds for the IG to impose a condition on, or

suspend or cancel the registration of, a trustee, or issue a show-cause notice to the trustee. The IG must consider the information but is not bound to act on it.

40-105: No liability for notice given in good faith etc.

No equivalent

An industry body is not liable civilly, criminally or under any administrative process for a notice given in good faith and where the suspicion that is the subject of the notice is a reasonable suspicion. That protection extends to persons who give information to the industry body that is contained in a notice to the IG and to persons who make a decision as a result of which the industry body gives a notice.

40-110: Meaning of industry body

No equivalent

The IPRs may prescribe industry bodies–ARITA and the peak accounting and legal professional bodies are prescribed (see IPR 40-1).

45-1: Court oversight of registered trustees

No direct equivalent (some of the same subject matter is contained in 176 and

179. Other provisions of the ILRA also partially replicate 179

– e.g. 9015)

A Court may make such orders as it thinks fit in relation to a registered trustee, either on its own initiative, or on application by the IG or the trustee. In making orders the court may take into account:

•  whether the trustee has faithfully performed his/her duties

•  whether an action or failure to act by the trustee complies with the Act or IPRs, or the order of the court

•  whether any person has suffered, or is likely to suffer, loss or damage as a result of the trustee’s act or failure to act

•  the seriousness of the consequences of any act or failure to act by the trustee, including the effect on public confidence in registered trustees as a group.

45-5: Court may make orders about costs

No direct equivalent, but some overlap with 176

Without limiting 45-1, the Court may make orders in relation to a registered trustee that deal with the costs of a matter considered by the Court.

50-5: Prescribed body appointing a person to a committee

No equivalent

The IPRs may prescribe knowledge and experience requirements for members of a committee chosen by a prescribed body (at least 5 years’ experience as a registered trustee is prescribed – see IPR 50-15). The ‘prescribed body’ is ARITA.

50-10: Minister appointing a person to a committee

No equivalent

The Minister must be satisfied that a person is qualified by virtue of his or  her knowledge of, or experience in, one or more of: business; law; economics; accounting; public policy relating to bankruptcy.

50-15: Single committee may consider more than one matter

No equivalent

A single committee may consider one or more of the following:

•  matter(s) relating to one application for trustee registration

•  matter(s) relating to more than one applicant for registration

•  matter(s) relating to one or more registered trustees.

50-20: Ongoing consideration of matters by committee

No direct equivalent (but similar in some respects to the subject matter in Bankruptcy Regs 8.05G and 8.23)

The committee’s powers are not affected by a change in membership of the committee; the committee may adjourn consideration of a matter (and may do so more than once). A matter may be transferred to another committee.

50-25: Procedure and other rules relating to committees

No equivalent

The IPRs may provide for (see division 50 of the IPRs):

•  the manner in which committees perform their functions including:

(i) meetings (ii) quorum requirements (iii) disclosure of interests and (iv) how questions are decided

•  the reconstitution of a committee and

•  the termination of consideration of a matter by a committee and the transfer of matters to another committee.

50-30: Remuneration of committee members

No equivalent

Committee members are entitled to receive remuneration as determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. If no Tribunal Determination is in place, the members are entitled to receive such remuneration as the Minister determines in writing.

50-35: Committee must only use information etc. for purposes for which disclosed

No equivalent

A committee member commits an offence if he/she uses or discloses information or a document that was disclosed to him/her for the purposes of serving on

the committee (50 penalty unit maximum penalty). Exceptions apply where the document or information is disclosed to: ASIC; other committees under this Part or the corresponding Part of the Insolvency Practice Schedule (Corporations); prescribed bodies; authorities in States, Territories or overseas exercising similar functions to the committee or the IG; or a court or tribunal.

96-1: Review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

155A(7) – registration application

155F(3) – application to vary/remove condition

155I(5) – disciplinary action by committee

The following decisions are reviewable by the AAT:

•  a committee decision under 20-20 (registration application)

•  a committee decision under 20-55 (application to vary or remove condition on registration)

•  IG decision under 40-15 (directing trustee not to accept further appointments)

•  IG decision under 40-25 (suspending registration)

•  IG decision under 40-35 (cancelling registration)

•  Committee decision under 40-55 (disciplinary action by committee)

•  Committee decision under 40-85 (application to lift or shorten a suspension).

105-1: The Insolvency Practice Rules

No equivalent

The Minister may, by legislative instrument, make rules providing for matters required or permitted by the Bankruptcy Act to be made by the Rules, or necessary or convenient to be provide for in order to carry out or give effect to the Act.

Endnote (edited)

This table deals only with provisions in Parts 1 and 2 of the Schedule (and sections 96-1 and 105-1 in Part 4, to the extent those provisions relate to Parts 1 and 2).

Transitional arrangements apply in respect of some new provisions – the transitional arrangements are not covered in this table.

This table does not present a full description of the new provisions, but highlights their main features and/or how they differ from existing.

A reference to the IPRs is a reference to the Insolvency Practice Rules, which underpin the Insolvency Practice Schedule (Bankruptcy) and provide greater detail in relation to various requirements of the Parts 1 and 2 of the IPRs commence on 1 March 2017.

————————————————————————————
End of table

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Feb 022016
 

On 3 December 2015 the Insolvency Law Reform Bill 2015 was introduced into Australia’s House of Representatives. The Bill is a newer version of the 2014 draft Bill (Insolvency Law Reform Bill 2014), which was released in November 2014.

Ministerial Summary of the Insolvency Law Reform Bill 2015

The Bill was introduced to Parliament with this speech by Mr Alex Hawke, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer. The following is a copy of his speech. I have added headings to improve readability.
Continue reading »

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Nov 122015
 

Transcripts have now been published for all of the public hearings of the Senate inquiry into insolvencies in construction industry. Phoenixing of companies is the main topic discussed. Several insolvency practitioners have given evidence, and at the hearing in Sydney on 28th September the insolvency profession was criticised by the leading participant, Senator Doug Cameron. At the public hearing in Melbourne on 29th September the Walton Constructions case was discussed in detail by the insolvency practitioners initially appointed as external administrators.

A list of the public hearings and those who appeared as witnesses is provided below. Continue reading »

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Aug 132015
 

What reasons are given for the failure and insolvency of non-corporate businesses, i.e., those owned by individuals as sole traders or in partnership? Is there any alignment between the reasons given for non-corporate business failures and the reasons given for corporate failures? And where a non-corporate (aka personal) business  insolvency has been brought about by the phoenix scheme of a corporate customer or client, is this made known to the regulator for statistical purposes?

This article is an extension of the discussion in my post  “Confusing causes of corporate insolvency”. Continue reading »

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Jun 112015
 

Tax Checklist for IPs
The Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (ARITA), with the help of professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia (PWC), has published a tax guidance checklist to assist insolvency practitioners with identifying tax issues and their obligations on taking insolvency appointments. (Publication date 10 June 2015)

The checklist has 57 questions, alerts, recommendations and tasks concerning income tax, goods and services tax, fringe benefits tax, PAYG withholding, and superannuation guarantee.

ARITA suggests that “Members should note that while ARITA will endeavour to ensure that this guidance is kept up to date, tax is an area subject to constant change and the guidance is current, to the best of our knowledge, as at the date included in the footer of the document. Members should ensure that they are always using the most current version of the guidance”.

The checklist is intended to provide assistance and help to insolvency practitioners in the complicated field of tax compliance. There is no suggestion from ARITA that use of their tax guide is mandatory or necessary or even recommended.

Tax Guide part

Extract from ARITA tax guide

Access to the full guide is available through the ARITA website: CLICK HERE.


Update 14 July 2015:

From ARITA on 13 July:

ARITA has received a number of queries from members regard the relevant PAYG Withholding Rates for dividends paid to employees by external administrators in light of the increase to the Medicare Levy.

On consultation with the ATO, we have been advised that the 2005 Notice of Variation is still current and the 31.5% standard rate still applies and will continue to do so until the notice of variation ceases on 1 October 2015.

The ATO further advises that it is looking to renew the notice but before that occurs will consult with relevant stakeholders, including ARITA and external administrators, about whether changes need to or should be made to the current notice, including any changes to the rates on the notice.


 

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May 212015
 

Slap with feather … (updated 4 December 2015)

Case 3

Australian Financial Security Authority – Media release: (NSW) Hull – Bankrupt pleads guilty to three offences under the Bankruptcy Act

Wed 02 December 2015

A man was sentenced for disposing of property within 12 months prior to becoming a bankrupt with intent to defraud his creditors and having made a false declaration on his Statement of Affairs. Mr Denis John Hull was sentenced in the Downing Centre Local Court on 24 November 2015 following a guilty plea being entered to having disposed of property within 12 months prior to becoming a bankrupt with intent to defraud his creditors and to having made a false declaration on his Statement of Affairs.

On 31 March 2012 Mr Hull received a total of $21,175.44 from the sale of two parcels of shares authorised for sale on 26 March 2012. On 10 April 2012 he became bankrupt via Debtor’s Petition, by which time he had disposed of monies totalling $16,000 received from the sale of shares. In his Statement of Affairs completed on 5 April 2014, Mr Hull failed to disclose the sale of the two parcels of shares, and failed to disclose the existence of the bank account into which the share proceeds were subsequently deposited.

During the proceedings Magistrate Milledge remarked that the offending was “quite deceitful and very worrying”. She later stated that the offending was “despicable, mean and criminal”, but acknowledged that it was clear that Mr Hull accepted that as demonstrated in his letter to the court. In passing sentence, Magistrate Milledge gave consideration to Mr Hull’s age at the date of the offending; the fact that he had previously managed to lead a trouble free life; and that his recent efforts to repay the monies showed remorse; and remarked that it was her view that whilst there was serious criminality she saw it as something that was done at a critical place in life and understood that this was why Mr Hull had done what he had done, noting that this did not excuse the offending.

Mr Hull was sentenced and was ordered to enter into a 2 year good behaviour bond in the amount of $200 with nil conviction to be recorded pursuant to Section 19B(1)(d) Crimes Act 1914. Magistrate Milledge noted that no restitution order would be made as this was being taken care of.

The matter was prosecuted by the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.;


Amazing … (updated 11 August 2015)

Case 2

Australian Financial Security Authority – Media release: (TAS) Smith – Discharged bankrupt faces court and imprisonment for failing to disclose financial details and withdrawing cash of $72,600

Thu 06 August 2015

A dairy farmer formerly of King Island, Dominic Luke Smith was prosecuted in the Launceston Court of Petty Sessions on 24 July 2015 for removing $72,600 from his bank accounts in 2012, prior to and just after the date of bankruptcy.
Mr Smith also failed to keep appropriate books and records relating to his business transactions for five years prior to his bankruptcy and failed to disclose information as required by the trustee. Mr Smith was not able to account for how he spent a $100,000 loan and failed to produce bank account statements and cheque butts when requested by his bankruptcy trustee. Mr Smith pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the Bankruptcy Act and was sentenced to a total effective sentence of 4 months’ imprisonment, released on a $1,000 two-year good behaviour bond. The matter was prosecuted by the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Case 1

Australian Financial Security Authority – Media release NSW (McElwaine) – Nine-month bond for offence against the Bankruptcy Act

Thu 14 May 2015

A NSW woman has pleaded guilty to gambling away more than $137,000 from the sale of her property rather than paying creditors before declaring bankruptcy with debts of $438,000. Dee Why resident Bridgett McElwaine was sentenced in the Downing Centre Local Court on 12 May 2015 after pleading guilty to an offence against the Bankruptcy Act. Ms McElwaine filed for voluntary bankruptcy in October 2012 with debts of $438,000 mostly from the use of 22 credit cards. Before her bankruptcy, Ms McElwaine had received proceeds of more than $137,000 after selling her property in Frenchs Forest, NSW. She withdrew more than $96,000 in the 12 months before her bankruptcy and told the court she ‘blew the lot’ on gambling instead of making the money available to her creditors. In sentencing Magistrate Goodwin noted a jail term was available for Ms McElwaine’s serious offence and that a clear message needed to be sent to the community about the unacceptable nature of that behaviour. Ms McElwaine was convicted and placed on a nine-month good behaviour bond, recognisance of $500 and to accept Community Corrections Service supervision. The case was prosecuted by the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.Media release NSW (McElwaine) – Nine-month bond for offence against the Bankruptcy Act


 

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Feb 042015
 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has modified the section of its website that provides advice and  information to insolvency practitioners on the various taxation questions and topics that pertain to them.    (Modifications made 29 January 2015.)

 

The following headings in red are links to the subjects on the ATO page:

logo-ato

Insolvency Practitioners

Contacting us about insolvency

“How to contact us regarding insolvency matters.”

Online services and forms

“Here you will find the Business Portal FAQ, Voidable transaction claim form, Appointment or cessation of a representative of an incapacitated entity form and Debt insolvency cover sheet.”

Responsibilities

“Administrative obligations of external administrators in both personal and corporate insolvency.”

 Disclosure of taxpayer information – insolvent entities

“You may need to access information we hold to help you administer an insolvent estate. The information we disclose varies depending on the type of insolvency administration. Find out how to obtain this information from us.”

Preference payments

“Information for insolvency practitioners seeking recovery of voidable transactions.”

Indemnities for trustees and liquidators

“What trustees and liquidators need to consider when making an indemnity request to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation.”

Superannuation and insolvency

“Information about how superannuation affects insolvency administrations.”

Reports on our management of insolvent entities

“Independent reviews into our decisions to enforce insolvency.”

Shares and securities

“Claiming capital losses on shares and securities that are declared worthless.”

PAYG withholding

“Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding is a system that collects tax from the payments businesses make to employees and other businesses, so they can meet their tax liabilities. Information is provided here for external administrators and trustees of bankrupt estates to understand what they need to do to meet their administrative obligations under the PAYG withholding system.”

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2014 version of Bill to amend corporate and personal insolvency laws

 ASIC, Corporate Insolvency, Insolvency Law, Personal Bankruptcy, Regulation  Comments Off on 2014 version of Bill to amend corporate and personal insolvency laws
Nov 172014
 

On 7 November 2014  an exposure draft of the Insolvency Law Reform Bill 2014 (ILRB 2014) was released by the Australian Treasury for comment.

The Treasury Crest

Summaries:

The Treasury’s summary/promotion of the legislation is as follows:

“The draft Bill comprises a package of proposals to amend and streamline the Bankruptcy Act 1966 and the Corporations Act 2001. The proposed amendments will:

•remove unnecessary costs and increase efficiency in insolvency administrations;
•enhance communication and transparency between stakeholders;
•promote market competition on price and quality;
•boost confidence in the professionalism and competence of insolvency practitioners; and
•remove unnecessary costs from the insolvency industry resulting in around $55.4 million per annum in compliance cost savings.”

The Explanatory Material issued with the Bill opens with this outline:

“The Insolvency Law Reform Bill 2014 (Bill) amends the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act) and the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Bankruptcy Act) to create common rules that would:
• remove unnecessary costs and increase efficiency in insolvency administrations;
• align and modernise the registration and disciplinary frameworks that apply to registered liquidators and registered trustees;
• align and modernise a range of specific rules relating to the handling of personal bankruptcies and corporate external administrations;
• enhance communication and transparency between stakeholders;
• promote market competition on price and quality;
• improve the powers available to the corporate regulator to regulate the corporate insolvency market and the ability for both regulators to communicate in relation to insolvency practitioners operating in both the personal and corporate insolvency markets; and
• improve overall confidence in the professionalism and competence of insolvency practitioners.”

 Links to government material:

The draft Bill (ILRB 2014) in PDF format

The Explanatory Material in PDF format

The Insolvency Practice Rules – Proposals Paper in PDF format

Coversheet for a submission by post

The Treasury website page

Previous Bill and background material:

The first version of ILRB 2014 appeared on 19/12/2012 as Insolvency Law Reform Bill 2012, but it never became law. However, the 2012 Explanatory Memorandum and  the 2012 Exposure Draft  contains valuable background information related to the current Bill. (Sixteen submissions were made for this 2012 consultation.)

Further background information regarding ILRB 2014 is available in the June 2011 Treasury Options Paper titled “A Modernisation and Harmonisation of the Regulatory Framework Applying to Insolvency Practitioners in Australia”. (Thirty three submissions were made for this consultation.)

The 2011 options paper was followed in December 2011 by a Proposals Paper with the same title. (Twenty nine submissions were made for this consultation.)

Submissions regarding ILRB 2014:

Closing date for submissions: Friday, 19 December 2014.

Email submissions are to be done online at:

http://www.treasury.gov.au/ConsultationsandReviews/Consultations/Submission-Form?parent={34029467-07BE-46D9-AA9E-86DAC3715DFF}

Address for written submissions:

Manager
Corporations and Scheme Unit
Financial System and Services Division
The Treasury
Langton Crescent
PARKES ACT 2600

 For enquiries call Peter Levy at The Treasury on (02) 6263 3976.

Further posts on this site:

Further posts will be made on this blog site in the coming days with details of some of the proposed changes to corporate insolvency laws.

 


 

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Jul 172014
 

Is there evidence that Australia’s external administration regime causes otherwise viable businesses to fail and, if so, what could be done to address this?

This is the question being asked about external administrations in the Interim Report of the Financial System Inquiry (FSI) (July 2014). The FSI says it would value views on the costs, benefits and trade-offs of the following policy options or other alternatives:

  • No change to current arrangements.
  • Implement the 2012 proposals to reduce the complexity and cost of external administration for SMEs. [See below for details of these proposals.]

The brief section of the FSI’s report dealing with external administration may be viewed HERE.  (The full report in pdf format is available HERE.)

David Murray

David Murray, FSI chairman. Artwork from bluenotes.anz.com

US Chapter 11 regime?

Adoption by Australia of a US Chapter 11 style form of external administration could still be an option, although the FSI has already given it the thumbs down, as this extract from its interim report shows:

“The Inquiry considers adopting such a regime would be costly and could leave control in the hands of those who are often the cause of a company’s financial distress. Capital would be maintained in a business that is likely to fail, which would restrict or defer the capital from being channelled to more viable and productive enterprises. Adopting such a regime would also create more uncertainty for creditors by limiting their rights. The Inquiry notes that Chapter 11 has rarely enabled businesses to continue as going concerns in the long term. There is little empirical evidence that Australia’s voluntary administration process is causing otherwise viable businesses to fail. The Inquiry would like stakeholders to provide any empirical evidence that supports that view.”

Second round of submissions to FSI

Submissions in response to the Interim Report are due by 26 August 2014. Submissions can be lodged online using the Financial System Inquiry special facility,  or may be lodged by email or post: fsi@fsi.gov.au or Financial System Inquiry,  GPO Box 89,  Sydney NSW 2001.

Insolvency reform proposals of 2012

The 2012 insolvency reform proposals to which the FSI specifically refers in its request for second round submissions concern:

  1. Registration and discipline of insolvency practitioners (See note 1 at end of post for more information).
  2. Specific rules relating to external administrations (note 2).
  3. Regulator powers and miscellaneous amendments (note 3).

The Explanatory Material issued with the Insolvency Law Reform Bill  on 19 December 2012 can be viewed HERE.

“Thought leadership”

The Australian Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association (ARITA) (previously known as the Insolvency Practitioners Association) says it has embarked on “a major project to drive thought leadership around our insolvency regime”.  It is asking insolvency practitioners who want to make a submission to FSI to work with the professional association:

“ARITA has embarked on a major project to drive thought leadership around our insolvency regime.  Along with some of ARITA’s excellent previous work, significant new work has already been completed and ARITA members will soon be asked for comment on key aspects of our policy positions. This work is, obviously, well timed to support the FSI request for submissions. ARITA will actively work to represent the views of its membership and the profession to the FSI. We would urge all members and their firms to work with ARITA on providing strong and consistent representation to the FSI. If you or your firm is looking at making its own submission, please let ARITA know so that we can collaborate with you.”  ARITA Press Release 15/7/2014



NOTES re Proposals in December 2012 Insolvency Reform Bill:

Note 1: Registration and discipline of insolvency practitioners

Common rules regarding:   the physical registers of insolvency practitioners;  registration and disciplinary Committees.

Note 2: Specific rules relating to external administrations

Common rules regarding: •

  • Remuneration and other benefits received by the insolvency  practitioner;
  • The handling of administration or estate funds;
  • The provision of information by insolvency practitioners during an external administration or bankruptcy;
  • The meetings of creditors during an external administration or bankruptcy;
  • Committee of inspection formed as part of an external administration or bankruptcy; and
  • The external review of the administration of an estate or insolvency.

Note 3, part (a): Regulator powers and miscellaneous amendments

Provide ASIC with further powers to assist it in its oversight of the regulation of registered liquidators. In particular, the Bill amends the ASIC Act to:

  • enable ASIC to require the provision of information and books as part of an ASIC proactive surveillance program;
  • enable ASIC to provide administration information to a person with a material interest in the information; and
  • improve the transparency of ASIC oversight of the corporate insolvency industry.

Note 3, part (b): Regulator powers and miscellaneous amendments

Amend the Bankruptcy Act to enable ITSA to provide information relevant to the administration of the corporate law to ASIC.

Note 3, part (c): Regulator powers and miscellaneous amendments

A range of miscellaneous amendments, including:

  • amending the Acts to strengthen the penalties for breach of a bankrupt’s or directors’ obligations to provide a report as to affairs (RATA), or the books of the company, to an insolvency practitioner;
  • amend the Corporations Act to provide a process for the automatic disqualification of directors that have failed to provide a RATA, or the books of the company, to a registered liquidator until they have complied with those obligations; and
  • amend the Acts to enable the assignment of an insolvency practitioner’s statutory rights of actions.

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