Accountant caught up in high-profile FWO smackdown
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Accountant caught up in high-profile FWO smackdown

Legal action

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the franchisee of a multi-national company for allegedly falsifying records of its wage rates after inconsistent information provided by the company and its accountant.

Caltex franchisee Peter Dagher and his company Aulion Pty Ltd who operate the Caltex Five Dock service station in inner-western Sydney will face the Federal Circuit Court on 21 December after an investigation by the FWO as part of a proactive compliance activity involving audits of 15 Caltex service stations nationally.

The FWO issued Aulion Pty Ltd with Notices to Produce and Mr Dagher and the company provided a range of documents, including contracts of employment time-and-wages records, pay slips and earnings summaries for six overseas workers.

Concerned that the documents provided did not accurately reflect the wage rates the company had paid to employees, the FWO issued further Notices to Produce to one bank, a superannuation fund and Aulion’s accountant.

The information contained in the documents obtained through the further Notices to Produce was inconsistent with information that had been provided by Mr Dagher and his company.

The FWO alleges that the reason for the inconsistency is that Mr Dagher and his company falsified documents and records and unlawfully made use of them by providing them to the Ombudsman.

It is alleged that Mr Dagher and his company also contravened laws requiring employers to issue employees with accurate pay slips within one day of payday.

Further, the absence of accurate time-and-wages records prevented the FWO from completing a full audit to determine whether employees at Caltex Five Dock had been paid their full lawful entitlements.

Mr Dagher faces maximum penalties of up to $3,600 per contravention and Aulion Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $18,000 per contravention.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said employers should be aware that the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 has now come into effect, increasing the maximum penalties for conduct including deliberate exploitation of workers and false records.

The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 came into effect on 15 September 2017.

"The maximum penalties available for some serious conduct that occurs today or in the future are now significantly higher than the penalties available to be imposed in matters such as this one, where the allegedly contravening conduct pre-dates the commencement of the Act," she said.

Accountant caught up in high-profile FWO smackdown
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