Former boss of collapsed agency appears before Supreme Court as fraud probe continues

A former director of collapsed outdoor ad agency Ambient Advertising has been questioned in Sydney’s Supreme Court as part of an investigation into alleged fraud at the company.


Former company director Mark Fishwick. The hearing will reconvene on April 21, 2017, when other former Ambient staff are likely to appear

Mark Fishwick was quizzed for more than three hours by lawyers acting for special purposes liquidator Nicholas Crouch, who was appointed by the Supreme Court in August 2015 to investigate Ambient.

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

The hearing, described as an “examination”, was adjourned until April 21, 2017, when other former Ambient staff are likely to appear as Crouch continues to explore whether clients were ripped off and, if so, who was responsible.

Crouch has previously said that of a sample of 100 contracts examined, 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.

A handful of contracts relating to deals with agencies including MEC and Ikon Communications were produced in court, with Fishwick asked if he could explain apparent discrepancies between the number of “units” ordered and supplied.

In occasionally tetchy exchanges between barrister Steven Golledge and Fishwick, the former Ambient director and APAC group chairman of Revolution 360, explained that Ambient was a media company, not a poster production firm.

He argued that ‘units’ – a term used in the contracts – related to media placements rather than the number of posters.

When asked about one contract for 3200 units, Fishwick said Ambient sourced the “required amount of posters to deliver the campaign”.

“Sometimes that means printing more posters because there needs to be re-posting during the campaign, it’s case-by-case basis,” he said.

“And sometimes less?,” replied Golledge


“When it is less, does the client still get charged the full amount that has been quoted for the 3200?”

“I say again, we are media company, to deliver 3200 media units”.

Asked by Golledge if there had been a practice within Ambient to keep it “secret” from clients that fewer posters were required to fulfil a media placement, Fishwick said: “There was no matters of keeping anything secret. We produced a campaign and reported the campaign.”

Questioned about the relationship between Ambient Advertising, which ceased trading in late 2013, and the creation of Revolution360, Fishwick rejected that Revolution was simply a new name for Ambient, insisting they were “totally different” operations.

He said he was unaware of emails, produced in court, suggesting that Revolution was the new name for Ambient.

Fishwick was also asked about monies which transferred between Ambient, Titan Media Group, and CityBay, of which his wife was also a director.

The examination will resume on April 21, 2017.


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