Registrar commences civil action against former chair of Mount Isa Aboriginal housing corporation

MR1314-03

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven, has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against the former chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Welfare Services (ATSIC Welfare Services).

ATSIC Welfare Services manages approximately 30 rental properties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the tight rental market of Mount Isa in Queensland.

The Registrar has applied to the Federal Court for declarations and orders disqualifying Ms Leigh Kerkhoffs from managing corporations registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). If made, the disqualification order will also apply to companies registered under the Corporations Act 2001.

The Registrar’s action also seeks a monetary penalty and compensation for ATSIC Welfare Services.

The action follows an investigation by the Registrar into the affairs of ATSIC Welfare Services after the corporation was placed under special administration on 15 October 2012. The Registrar alleges that the books and records of the corporation were in complete disarray and, at a time when the corporation was insolvent, Ms Kerkhoffs had used her position to write off a significant amount of rent owed to the corporation by herself and other family members.

The Federal Court proceedings form part of a continuing drive by the Registrar to improve governance standards in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations registered with his office.

‘Those who serve as directors must at all times act in the best interests of their corporations, and not in their own interests,’ said Mr Beven. ‘Action will be taken in appropriate cases where this does not occur.’

A directions hearing will be held before Justice Logan in the Federal Court in Brisbane on 2 August 2013.

Background

For more information about disqualification see the Registrar’s fact sheet: Disqualifications from managing corporations under the CATSI Act at www.oric.gov.au.

Media contact

Patricia Gibson
(02) 6146 4743
ORIC MR1314-03
4 July 2013