Son a di­rec­tor of dad’s crooked com­pany

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - HED­LEY THOMAS NA­TIONAL CHIEF COR­RE­SPON­DENT

The son of a fraud­ster New­cas­tle ac­coun­tant, who stabbed him­self to death af­ter steal­ing $10 mil­lion from un­know­ing clients, was a di­rec­tor of one of his fa­ther’s crooked com­pa­nies, au­dited the ac­counts of ripped-off clients, and was warned another of his schemes looked “dodgy” and smelled.

Ac­coun­tant Brett Walker, 45, is ac­cused by clients of the ac­coun­tancy firm in which he worked with his fa­ther, Ray Edward Walker, for more than 25 years, of turn­ing a blind eye to a Ponzi fraud that drained the life sav­ings and su­per­an­nu­a­tion of dozens of peo­ple.

Com­pany pa­pers, email trails in­volv­ing Brett Walker, and his doc­u­mented ex­pe­ri­ences with clients have been ob­tained by The Week­end Aus­tralian since he last week stren­u­ously de­nied any knowl­edge of wrong­do­ing and any con­nec­tion to Ray Walker’s theft of more than $10m.

The doc­u­ments show that Brett Walker was his fa­ther’s part­ner and co-di­rec­tor in Cap­i­tal As­set In­vest­ments Lim­ited, funded by money stolen by Ray from his clients in their ac­coun­tancy prac- tice. The doc­u­ments do not show that Brett Walker wrong­fully with­drew or mis­ap­pro­pri­ated any of his clients’ funds.

Brett Walker told The Week­end Aus­tralian last week: “All I can say is that not a cent of the money that my fa­ther took has gone into any­thing in which I’m in­volved. My fa­ther and I had run sep­a­rate busi­nesses for a long time with sep­a­rate bank ac­counts. We op­er­ated in the same phys­i­cal premises but my fa­ther was not a very ap­proach­able per­son. He never wanted me, as his son, to know what he was up to; he was a very se­cre­tive man. No­body sus­pected a thing — ev­ery­one was floored by this. I have been hon­est with ev­ery­one.’’

Rob Brook, a New­cas­tle so­lic­i­tor who first de­tected the fraud and put Ray Walker on no­tice on July 20, 2015, about his theft of a woman’s re­tire­ment sav­ings of $650,000, said Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties & In­vest­ments Com­mis­sion records of Cap­i­tal As­set In­vest­ments Lim­ited and Spacet Pty Ltd showed the fa­ther-son con­nec­tion in two en­ti­ties they con­trolled that drained clients’ money.

Mr Brook said re­tirees and bat­tler clients for whom he has been act­ing in the New­cas­tle and Lower Hunter Val­ley were “freshly as­ton­ished and ap­palled at Brett’s de­nials of knowl­edge and re­spon­si­bil­ity for the loss of their re­tire­ment sav­ings”.

“He has been boast­ing around town and now in our na­tional news­pa­per that there is noth­ing link­ing him to the miss­ing mil­lions in client money and that he knew noth­ing,’’ Mr Brook, of New­cas­tle Le­gal, said yes­ter­day.

“Brett ran a joint of­fice in part­ner­ship with Ray where re­cep­tion staff kept cash in en­velopes wait- ing for clients to ar­rive to col­lect. There is com­pelling ev­i­dence that Brett has known his fa­ther was tak­ing W. Walker & Com­pany client money on false pre­tences and op­er­at­ing an unau­dited and un­law­ful ‘trust’ ac­count since be­fore they went into part­ner­ship to­gether in 2000 and up un­til Ray’s sui­cide on 30 July, 2015.

“There is also proof that Brett knew Ray used this money to make spec­u­la­tive in­vest­ments with­out clients hav­ing any idea this was hap­pen­ing. Brett him­self was the di­rec­tor of one such com­pany from 2000 un­til the present, Cap­i­tal As­set In­vest­ments Lim­ited. Brett’s ac­tions pro­tected his fa­ther and fa­cil­i­tated Ray’s con­tin- ued mis­use of client money in a va­ri­ety of ways. Brett al­ways had a duty to re­port these very se­ri­ous mat­ters to the author­i­ties.”

In a joint W. Walker & Com­pany let­ter to “val­ued” clients, Brett and Ray ex­plained they were joint di­rec­tors of the com­pany and urged them to de­posit their “pri­vate and su­per­an­nu­a­tion” funds into it. The ac­counts of Cap­i­tal As­set In­vest­ments were au­dited from 2012 by a man whom Brett refers to in emails to his fa­ther as “Un­cle Tony”.

The ac­counts show the com­pany had no as­sets and that dur­ing the years of Brett’s di­rec­tor­ship his fa­ther put more than $1.8m into the failed en­tity.

A liq­uida­tor was ap­pointed in Au­gust last year.

A Bris­bane-based client who was sus­pi­cious about the han­dling of his money in another failed in­vest­ment con­trolled by Ray Walker wrote to Brett in 2013: “I would re­ally like to see the books and have them au­dited as it all ap­pears rather dodgy and the whole thing has an odour to it. Can you or­gan­ise an of­fi­cial au­dit of the books for this trust?”

Mr Walker did not an­swer de­tailed ques­tions from The Week­end Aus­tralian yes­ter­day, but said: “I have con­trib­uted as much as I am will­ing to and have made the de­ci­sion to not make any more state­ments at this time.”

Ray Walker

Brett Walker

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.