Probe into fraud allegations at collapsed ad firm to continue, documents set to be handed to detectives

Investigators looking into the collapse of outdoor ad firm Ambient Advertising have pushed through a resolution to continue to probe allegations of fraudulent activity, despite objections from the company’s former boss.


The investigation has focused on orders made by agencies, on behalf of clients, for Ambient to supply street posters. A special purpose liquidator, Nicholas Crouch, is examining apparent discrepancies between the number of posters requested and paid for by agencies, and the number ordered and delivered by Ambient.

Documents being compiled by Crouch are likely to be handed over to police and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission once further contracts have been received by the liquidator.


Fishwick: the firm’s largest creditor

Ambient Advertising founder Mark Fishwick, who is the firm’s largest creditor, voted against the proposal to fund litigation that would enable the investigation to progress to a public hearing in court.

The resolution was put before creditors yesterday by Crouch, who was appointed by the Supreme Court in August 2015 to investigate Ambient.

Although other creditors voted to approve litigation funding, Fishwick’s opposition as the largest creditor left the resolution in deadlock.

Crouch, as liquidator, then used his statutory power to cast the deciding vote and pushed the motion through.

Crouch is exploring allegations that Ambient, which collapsed at the end of 2013, may have failed to deliver contracted services and overcharged clients as a result. The laborious investigation has seen Crouch cross-check the contracts of agencies, clients, Ambient and its poster supplier.

Of a sample of 100 contracts examined, Crouch said 80 appeared to show “accounting irregularities”, with clients paying $500,000 for advertising that never saw the light of day. Extrapolated across the 355 contracts undertaken for street media advertising by Ambient until its collapse, the cost of undelivered advertising rises to $1.6m, he claims.

Crouch said he will hand documents to police and ASIC once further contracts have been received from media agencies, although some have dragged their heels in co-operating with the investigation.

Litigation will be funded to the tune of $130,000 by the director of Foot Traffic Media, Mike Akers, the largest unrelated creditor of Ambient. It will allow Crouch to “undertake public examinations” and subpoena Fishwick, another former director of Ambient, Milan Bozic and other individuals as he seeks to unravel how the financial irregularities occurred.

In a brief report to creditors, seen by Mumbrella, Crouch said he was forced to cut short a draft analysis of his findings so far.

“The majority of the results of my investigations to date shall remain confidential as lawyers acting for a relevant person allege my draft report to creditors is defamatory,” he wrote.

Former director Milan Bozic told Mumbrella he was co-operating with the liquidator.

“In relation to Ambient Advertising Pty Ltd and its proposed litigation funding agreement which was agreed to by creditors, I support the creditors decision and will continue to cooperate with the special purpose liquidator if and when required,” he said.

Fishwick, who became APAC group chairman of Revolution 360 and Captive Vision Outdoor in January 2014, has been approached for comment.


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