Not paying staff wages can result in court action, but not adhering to court rulings can see a business slapped with harsher penalties, as one SME may soon discover the hard way.
Leigh Alan Jorgensen, the owner-operator of Trek North Tours in Cairns, had his accounts and those of his business frozen in 2015 for underpayment of employee wages and subsequent failure to pay associated penalties imposed by the Federal Circuit Court.
The freezing orders were put in place to prevent any dispersion of funds until the affected workers had been back-paid in full and the relevant penalties paid.
Mr Jorgensen paid the penalty against him personally, and the court lifted the freeze order over his assets. However, Trek North Tours failed to meet its obligations, including a $55,000 fine on top of the outstanding wages.
Despite the freeze order remaining in place, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has alleged Mr Jorgensen transferred $41,035 from two company accounts and deposited the funds into his family trust again – which, if proven, would amount to contempt of court.
The matter will go back to court in Brisbane on 5 December.
In February this year, Mr Jorgensen was charged by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) with making a false or misleading statement, when he tried to deregister an ACN and claimed the company had no liabilities owned, despite the FWO judgment against it.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.