Former boss of device maker TZ Limited extradited from Thailand over fraud allegations
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A former director and chief executive of ASX-listed TZ Limited has been extradited from Thailand and charged with dishonest conduct over allegations he defrauded the company of $6.25 million.
The corporate watchdog ASIC alleges that from 2006 to 2008 John Falconer, 68, used his position dishonestly on 16 separate occasions to funnel money into entities associated with himself and Andrew Sigalla, another former director of TZ Limited (ASX:TZL).
It is also alleged that on two occasions, while a director of the company, Mr Falconer lodged financial reports with the ASX which failed to disclose the true nature of certain payments within the reports.
The commission commenced investigation into the case in 2012, at which point Mr Falconer fled to Thailand, returning to Australia only after a warrant was issued for his arrest and he was extradited earlier this year.
Mr Falconer arrived in Australia on Tuesday, escorted by federal police officers and appeared before Sydney Central Local Court on the same day.
He is the second former director to be charged with related offences.
Andrew Sigalla was sentenced to ten years in prison late last year for 24 counts of dishonest conduct, to which he lodged a notice of intention to appeal in March.
In his trial last year, the court heard that Mr Sigalla’s accounts were largely used to reduce his debt with bookmaker Tom Waterhouse or to make mortgage payments on behalf of one of his personal companies.
At the time, presiding Justice Adamson said: ‘The offending conduct took place over a period of more than two years in circumstances which demonstrated considerable deception, ingenuity, opportunism and greed.’
‘Private investment in public companies is a significant aspect of the market economy. If potential investors fear that the directors of public companies will misuse their positions to their own advantage, they will be loath to invest and the market will be deprived of capital which would otherwise have been available.’
ASIC Commissioner John Price also said: “This sentence reflects the gravity of the offending in this case and shows that the courts take offences involving dishonesty by company directors seriously”.
‘This should serve as a timely reminder to company directors about the serious consequences of failing to act with propriety.’
TZL provides hardware and software for securing data and remote locking facilities.
Shares in the company were trading at 3.5c on Wednesday morning – and between two and eight cents over the past 12 months.