Kidcare mogul skips reading judgment ABCs
6 June 2015
IF bankrupt childcare mogul Eddy Groves is worried about a judgment accusing him of orchestrating accounting fraud at ABC Learning Centres, he is keeping a poker face.
Mr Groves, 48, was back in Australia this week but the former ABC chief executive said he had not even seen the damning Queensland District Court judgment. Nor did he want to speak about how his subordinate, ABC’s former chief financial officer James Black, had pleaded guilty to providing misleading information to auditors equating to $46 million.“I’ve got no comment on it at all,” Mr Groves (pictured) said. At its peak, Brisbane-based ABC had almost 2300 centres across four nations. It collapsed in November 2008. In March, Black pleaded guilty but only received an 18-month sentence, to be released immediately.
His sentence was decided after the court was temporarily closed to the public. Legal sources said that pointed to Black aiding investigations.
During sentencing, the role of Mr Groves, who has always maintained his innocence, was raised. Justice Anthony Rafter told Black “the offence was committed on the instructions of (Mr Groves). You were not the architect”.
Previous attempts to obtain comment from Mr Groves have been unsuccessful but this week the charismatic entrepreneur answered his phone. He did not want to comment, even after The Courier-Mail read the sentencing remarks to him.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission had previously pushed for a separate charge against Mr Groves, but it was dropped by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. ASIC has declined to comment on any investigations.
A Canadian citizen and bankrupt, Mr Groves in 2013 told of plans to move to Canada to start a language school with his wife.
Black was told during sentencing that his professional accounting association would consider his registration in light of his crimes.Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand told The Courier-Mail it was “investigating the matter and are taking appropriate action” and “any outcome may be published in due course”.