Confusion over Andrew Demetriou’s role at failed vocation group

The former AFL chief has long denied being Acquire’s executive chairman, instead saying he was executive chairman of an advisory board to the group.


Andrew Demetriou’s role at the group is of key interest to liquidators. If he was acting as a director of the group he would carry more responsibility for the handling of its affairs.

The court heard that Andrew Demetriou billed Acquire for his $900,000 a year job at Acquire the night before it appointed administrators in May 2017. The invoice’s details were not read in court.

Emails presented to the court show the advisory board was dismantled in July 2016 a day before the ACCC fined Acquire $4.5 million for misleading and deceptive conduct.

Tim Demetriou – who told the court he was currently working in a cafe and for his father’s software buisness – was quizzed about his uncle’s role at the company by barrister for liquidators Damien McAloon.

“He ultimately assumed the position of executive chairman of Acquire?” Mr McAloon asked.

“Yes,” Tim Demetriou, who held various executive positions at Acquire, replied.

At other times he described Andrew Demetriou as an adviser and a sounding board and once as a member of the “senior management team”.

In one exchange, Tim Demetriou was taken to a series of internal Acquire emails and reports and pressed on his uncle’s role at the company and when that role ended.

“I’m not sure of the date when he ceased with us,” Tim Demetriou said.

Mr McAloon then asked: “As best you can recall in 2016 what was his role?”

Tim Demetriou responded: “What was his role? … I guess to be a sounding board for us and give us advice along the way.”

Mr McAloon shot back: “Well he sent in an invoice the night before administrators were appointed.”

Mr McAloon then asked Tim Demetriou if his uncle Andrew Demtriou was being informed about key transactions.

“Some of them,” he said. Tim Demetriou added: “I can’t say whether we took his advice over other people’s advice. The same way I would ask my dad for advice.”

Again Mr McAloon shot back: “But he was being paid more than $900,000 a year. So he wasn’t quite like your dad was he?

But he was being paid more than $900,000 a year. So he wasn’t quite like your dad was he?

Barrister for Cor Cordis liquidators Damien McAloon.

Tim Demetriou responded: “I’m not quite sure what you mean by that.”

Asked if the company was paying some “serious money for some sort of service?”, Tim Demetriou agreed this was the case.

Tim Demetriou was also quizzed over the $2.5 million in loans he received through his shareholding in a company that was a major investor in Acquire.

An email chain between several executives at Acquire including a finance officer Craig Douglas, Tim Demetriou and Acquire managing director John Wall appeared to show a lack of planning by Acquire when issuing the loans.

One email showed Mr Douglas saying there was enough free cash to issue a $1.75 million shareholder loan, to which Tim Demetriou replies: “Wow that is one mightly SHL [shareholder loan]. Love your work …xoxoxoxox”.

Mr Wall replied to the email: “Cmmmon (sic) I need it, I’m at a yearling sale.”

After presenting the emails, Mr McAloon said: “What this suggests is that you’re in the UK and Mr Wall is at a yearling sale. He says he needs the money because he’s at the Magic Millions in Perth.”

“It doesn’t seem like a process where the directors are going through a detailed analysis of the working capital of the company.”

Cmmmon I need it, I’m at a yearling sale.

Acquire managing director John Wall in a 2016 email

Tim Demetriou said it was likely other conversations about the loan took place outside of that email exchange.

The hearings continue.

Sarah Danckert is a business reporter.

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