Gold Coast liquidator wins four-year battle against corporate regulator
A Gold Coast liquidator has won a four-year legal battle to clear his name and maintain his professional registration as a liquidator after the Australian Federal Court dismissed proceedings brought against him by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Worrells Queensland Principal Jason Bettles vehemently maintained his innocence in the wake of court proceedings instigated by ASIC in November 2019 alleging he had breached his professional duties as a liquidator while appointed to wind up the Members Alliance Group of companies between July 2016 and July 2017.
On Friday 18 August, the Hon Justice Markovic delivered her judgment in the long-running case, dismissing the proceedings and ordering ASIC to pay costs.
Justice Markovic said after reviewing the material presented she was “not satisfied that there are any matters’’ that required orders being made against Mr Bettles.
In her judgment Justice Markovic found Mr Bettles had not breached his liquidator duties under the Corporations Act, noting that “a reasonable and informed third party, on the information available at the time would not reasonably form the opinion that Mr Bettles might not bring an independent mind to the liquidations and thus may not be impartial because of a lack of independence, or a perception of a lack of independence.”
Mr Bettles’ legal advisers from Norton Rose Fulbright have until 1 September to file a submission for costs to be paid by ASIC on an indemnity basis.
Mr Bettles welcomed the judgment saying it marked the end of what had been “an emotionally taxing’’ period for himself and his family.
“I am grateful for the unwavering support of my wife and children, Worrells Queensland, and my referral community, who have supported me at every stage of these proceedings,’’ he said.
Mr Bettles has a 21-year unblemished professional record as a liquidator, 19 years of which has been spent as a Principal at Worrells Queensland, managing the firm’s Gold Coast practice.
“I have always acted with professionalism and integrity while discharging my duties and responsibilities as one of just 660 registered liquidators in Australia,’’ he said.
“I am looking forward to putting this matter behind me and to continuing to help Australian business owners and individuals navigate financial adversity and to secure the best outcomes for creditors when businesses fail.’’
Worrells Queensland Principal Raj Khatri said the firm had supported Mr Bettles at every step of the complex and lengthy legal proceedings.
“Mr Bettles is well-regarded by his colleagues and trusted by his clients. He has handled what has been an extremely difficult and challenging period with strength and grace.’’
About Worrells Worrells is a leading insolvency and turnaround practice. With local teams in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, and Western Australia, Worrells also has the support of a national brand. Its teams have helped people and businesses recover from difficult financial situations and assisted creditors for more than 50 years.
Justine Nolan BBS Communications Group M: 0437 978 601 E: firstname.lastname@example.org