AN Ulladulla accounting firm and three people connected to it have been ordered to pay nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in damages after being sued in the district court in Wollongong.
Information presented to Justice Judith Gibson said when Garry and Patricia White of Ulladulla were preparing to buy Leading Edge Telecoms in March 2009, they engaged Focal Accounting and Taxation Services to help take care of the financial side of the business.
At the time Focal was being run by Debbie Geerlings and Darcy Ledger, while the company’s tax portal was registered to Canberra accountant Michael James Gallagher.
Mrs Geerlings left Focal in July 2009 a month before she was declared bankrupt, though the Whites were never told of this.
After she left Focal Mrs Geerlings continued to handle the accounts for Leading Edge Telecoms, however staff superannuation was not paid and taxation obligations were not met.
With the tax office ringing daily seeking the activity statements, they were finally lodged in July 2011 through Focal Accounting’s tax portal.
“What was lodged was late and incorrect, and the plaintiffs incurred fines in relation to this and other BAS and tax returns,” Justice Gibson noted.
Potential loss of earnings along with the costs of winding up Leading Edge Telecoms, paying redundancies for their staff, and paying new accountants to sort out the financial mess, form the bulk of the $748,827 judgement awarded to Mr and Mrs White.
In summing up the case Justice Gibson noted Mr and Mrs White had “lost everything as a result of the incompetent financial advice they received”.
“That they received grossly incompetent representation and advice appears to be accepted by everyone, including the defendants,” Justice Gibson said.