The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven, has commenced civil penalty proceedings against several former directors and a former executive of the Ngukurr Progress Aboriginal Corporation (NPAC).
NPAC was incorporated in 1997 and is the trustee of the Ngukurr Progress Trust, which owns the Ngukurr General Store—the only community store in the Ngukurr community, 600 km south-east of Darwin.
The Registrar has applied to the Federal Court in the Northern Territory for declarations and orders disqualifying the former directors and former executive from managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. The disqualification will also apply to companies registered under the Corporations Act 2001.
This action follows an investigation by the Registrar into alleged attempts to obtain funds from NPAC’s bank accounts without the approval of the board. NPAC’s board took immediate action when it became aware of the attempts and these proceedings will reinforce the action taken by the board.
According to Mr Beven the proceedings have been taken to emphasise the high standards of
behaviour required of directors of Aboriginal corporations, particularly when they operate
vital community services such as stores.
‘I will hold to account directors and executives for their actions when they misuse their
position,’ Mr Beven said.
The Registrar is seeking orders against Simon Ponto, Nelson Hall, Walter Rogers, Godfrey Blitner and Dwarka Dass. The Registrar alleges various breaches of duties under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006, including:
- an improper use of position to gain an advantage
- a failure to act in the best interests of the corporation
- a failure to obtain approval from corporation members before giving a benefit to a related party.
A directions hearing was held today in the Federal Court in Darwin before Justice Reeves. The matter has been set down for a further directions hearing at 9.30 am on Tuesday, 7 June 2011.
For more information about disqualification see ORIC’s fact sheet—Disqualification from managing corporations under the CATSI Act that is available at www.oric.gov.au.
16 May 2011
Christa De Jager
(02) 6219 7611
Ref: ORIC MR1011-31