Ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in­ves­ti­gated

REGISTRAR OF ABO­RIG­I­NAL AND TOR­RES STRAIT IS­LAN­DER COR­PO­RA­TIONS LOOK INTO COM­PLAINTS

Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Hay­den Thom­son

The Yorta Yorta Na­tion Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion was in­ves­ti­gated by an Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment statu­tory of­fice last year fol­low­ing a num­ber of mem­ber com­plaints.

The Registrar of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Cor­po­ra­tions au­tho­rised an of­fi­cer, Alan Con­way, to spend a week ex­am­in­ing the books at the Yorta Yorta cor­po­ra­tion’s Wels­ford St of­fice in Au­gust last year.

A sub­se­quent re­port found there were fi­nan­cial and other ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at the cor­po­ra­tion.

The re­port, pro­vided anony­mously to The News, stated a for­mer cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive had en­tered into prop­erty trans­ac­tions to­talling $2.4 mil­lion, with­out the con­sent of the board.

All names had been blanked out in the re­port.

The re­port stated that ‘‘the trans­ac­tions were not con­sis­tent with the usual or day-to-day busi­ness of the cor­po­ra­tion (and) the trans­ac­tions would not be within the usual or im­plied au­thor­ity of a CEO’’.

‘‘(The chief ex­ec­u­tive) may have ex­ceeded his fi­nan­cial del­e­ga­tion and (I) found no ev­i­dence that he had sought ap­proval from the di­rec­tors of the cor­po­ra­tion be­fore en­ter­ing into the trans­ac­tion,’’ the re­port stated.

On March 12, 2015, a prop­erty known by the cor­po­ra­tion as ‘‘Shep­herds’’ was bought for $550 000.

The re­port stated no ap­proval for the chief ex­ec­u­tive to en­ter into the agree­ment was found in the min­utes of di­rec­tors’ meet­ings.

On June 10, 2015, a prop­erty known by the cor­po­ra­tion as ‘‘Bluegum’’ was bought for $1.35 mil­lion, while a val­u­a­tion re­port just four months later val­ued it at $475 000.

The re­port said a val­uer stated the ‘‘sale price was highly el­e­vated’’ and the ‘‘con­tract ap­pears to be a pri­vate treaty with no agent in­volved’’.

The au­tho­rised of­fi­cer also found the cor­po­ra­tion had traded at a loss for the past two fi­nan­cial years and its fi­nan­cial po­si­tion had been im­pacted due to loans the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive en­tered into.

‘‘The cor­po­ra­tion recorded losses of $665 961 for the year ended June 30, 2015, and $293 438 for the year ended June 30, 2017,’’ the re­port read.

‘‘The long-term vi­a­bil­ity of the cor­po­ra­tion may de­pend on debt for­give­ness by West­pac (as) de­mand for pay­ment is ac­cru­ing at a rate of $84 000 a year (in­ter­est at 12 per cent).’’

Since the con­clu­sion of the re­view, the registrar has been work­ing with cor­po­ra­tion staff to ad­dress mat­ters iden­ti­fied in the ex­am­i­na­tion.

On Fe­bru­ary 26, the cor­po­ra­tion had its an­nual meet­ing and six of the cur­rent seven di­rec­tors were ap­pointed, with mem­bers pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion to sell the prop­er­ties ‘‘Bluegum’’ and ‘‘Shep­herds’’.

The News con­tacted the Yorta Yorta Na­tion Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion, but it did not re­spond to ques­tions.

The Registrar of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Cor­po­ra­tions’ An­thony Beven said the Yorta Yorta or­gan­i­sa­tion was work­ing co-op­er­a­tively to ad­dress is­sues raised in the com­pli­ance no­tice.

‘‘The no­tice sets out var­i­ous time­frames for the cor­po­ra­tion to com­ply with var­i­ous as­pects of the no­tice . . . (and) the cor­po­ra­tion has met all time­frames to date,’’ he said.

Need to im­prove: A au­tho­rised of­fi­cer spent a week at Yorta Yorta Na­tions Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion Wels­ford Street premises last year.

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