Atomic 212 and Barry O’Brien sue former CEO Jason Dooris for fraud, kickback and bribery claims

Media agency Atomic 212 and its chair, Barry O’Brien, are suing former CEO Jason Dooris for falsely claiming the agency is involved in fraud, kickbacks and bribery.

In court documents filed on 13 September seen by Mumbrella, the agency asked for the court to impose an injunction on Dooris, which would restrain him from claiming that Atomic 212 or O’Brien engaged in fraud, takes bribes and kickbacks at the expense of clients, launders bribes and kickbacks through a company within the Atomic group, and warrants investigation by the ASIC Fraud Unit or NSW Police’s Serious Fraud Unit. If he disobeys that injunction, the summons reads, Dooris could face jail time.

Jason Dooris is being taken to court by his former agency, Atomic 212

Dooris exited the agency early last year, following a Mumbrella investigation that revealed he had exaggerated work, claimed inflated billings, and suggested rivals lost pitches which did not take place in order to win prestigious industry awards.

In a lengthy face-to-face interview with Mumbrella reporter Steve Jones, Dooris denied the allegations, and said he did not intend to mislead awards juries.

However, O’Brien conceded that Dooris’ behaviour was concerning.

“I am seeing a stretch. If I am a competitor or judge then I am seeing a stretch,” he told Mumbrella at the time.

“We do have records here of relationships… but it’s pushed to a level where it’s got to be a concern. Have we learned from this? Dramatically.”

Affidavits by O’Brien and business director of brand, Harriette Hickey, have been filed in the case. Dooris is yet to file a defence.

According to a report by The Australian, following his departure, Dooris attempted to plant false stories in industry press sites, including contacting a journalist at AdNews twice.

The first time, Dooris claimed that Atomic 212 client NIB was putting its media account up for pitch because of a conflict of interest with another client, AusSuper, The Australian reports.

The second instance saw Dooris tell the same AdNews journalist that Mortgage Choice was also ready to put its account up for pitch, and Atomic 212 had lost AusSuper as a client. But according to Atomic 212, AusSuper never was a client, and the claims were false.

The report also states that envelopes containing an email were sent to three agency staff members and a client in September accusing them of fraud, taking kickbacks and money laundering.

That sequence of events led to Atomic 212 and O’Brien commencing court action.

Since the matter is before the courts, the agency said it is “inappropriate for us to comment”.


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