Son a director of dad’s crooked company
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.”