Directors may face fraud charges

THERE have been calls for Housing NSW to hand over government documents to police so a case for prosecution can be built against directors of failed construction company Perle Pty Ltd.

The company has debts of almost $10 million and is unable to complete numerous government-funded Building Education Revolution projects across NSW.

Three of the projects include public housing constructions in Coffs Harbour in Harbour Drive, West High Street and Azalea Avenue.

A meeting with administrators on Friday revealed the company has gone into receivership owing tradesmen on the Coffs Coast in the order of $1.3 million.

One local company is owed almost $300,000, while administrators told Perle’s creditors to expect returns of 10 cents in the dollar. Going public with the story on national radio, Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser queried the government’s probity checks in awarding contracts to private companies.

Radio host Ray Hadley joined him in calling on Housing Minister Frank Terenzini to hand over “false” statutory declarations signed by Perle’s company directors to police.

“Subbies haven’t been paid they (the company) have gone into voluntary administration and you have got a stat dec saying we have paid them all – where’s the problem?” he said.

A spokesman for Housing NSW said the due diligence process in selecting building companies for Housing NSW projects is extremely thorough.

“Housing NSW only makes payments to builders (for subbies work) after receiving stat decs and witnessed declarations from builders that they have paid all their debts to subbies,” he said.

“Such a sworn declaration was provided by Perle and Housing NSW took that sworn statement on good faith that subbies had been paid. It now appears that’s not the case.”

Mr Fraser confirmed local sub-contractors are owned at least $1.294 million.

“Statements from State Labor Minister Terenzini claim that his Department carried out probity and due diligence checks on Perle Pty Ltd and that they had received statutory declarations from the company claiming that money owed to the Coffs Harbour and Wollongong sub-contractors had been paid,” Mr Fraser said.

“If this is the case the Minister, Premier Keneally and Attorney General must immediately take steps to report the matter to the police and have the principals of Perle prosecuted under the Oaths Act of 1900.

“It is totally unacceptable that the Government now owns assets which, in reality, belong to the unpaid sub-contractors in NSW. It should also be noted that the Keneally Labor Government administered the funds in the Federal Government stimulus package,” he said.

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