Community Connections wind-up on hold

AUSTRALIA’S corporate regulator has put the wind-up of a failed social welfare agency on hold.

The Warrnambool-based Community Connections Victoria Limited (CCVL) applied for voluntary deregistration in September.

But the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has now deferred the application following an appeal by Warrnambool law firm Stringer Clark.

Lawyer Creon Coolahan said the company was yet to pay outstanding entitlements to some staff.

Employees had failed in a bid to get the Fairwork Ombudsman to chase CCVL for unpaid annual service leave entitlements totalling more than $100,000. 

Fairwork said wage records provided by the company were incomplete so it could not verify the accuracy of the figures or calculate the entitlement for individual staff.

Mr Coolahan said his clients and other former employees were “bitterly disappointed” with this decision.

“As a firm we decided that it would be appropriate to apply to halt the deregistration application that had been made on the company’s behalf by (CEO) Mr Bruce du Vergier to ASIC,” Mr Coolahan said.

“In doing so, we hope that this gives former employees a chance to recover their unpaid entitlements before the company ceases to exist, and that the company will be called upon to explain to its creditors and ASIC why these entitlements have not been paid.”

As part of the application for a wind-up, Mr du Vergier declared to ASIC that all CCVL members had agreed to the deregistration, the company was not carrying on a business, its assets were worth less than $1000, it had no outstanding liabilities and was not party to any legal proceedings.

But Mr Coolahan said, despite Mr du Vergier’s declaration, the company continued to be a party in ongoing litigation.

“We consider this to be a ground in itself upon which the deregistration application should be refused by ASIC.”

The corporate regulator has now extended the appeal period for the company’s deregistration to June 3.

The agency lost millions of dollars of contracts in late 2011 when the state government withdrew funding for programs including foster care, residential care and gamblers’ help after concerns about how they were being administered and breaches of service agreements. More than 50 staff lost their jobs.

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