‘Diamond’ Joe Gutnick hits back as former workers say they weren’t paid

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“It was defined to us that unhealthy guys with semi-automatics would possibly are available in a helicopter and steal the diamonds,” mentioned a former mine employee.

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However, requested if he was involved a few probe by the Australian Securities and Investments Fee, Mr Gutnick informed The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, “I’ve had ASIC take a look at transactions I’ve finished for 30 years”.

‘Not paid’

One main NT-based contractor who stop the mine final 12 months after months with out cost is looking for nearly $1 million from the financially strapped diamond mining firm. One other contractor has settled a declare of a number of hundred thousand , accepting an quantity far lower than they believed they had been owed.

A senior mine supervisor mentioned he stop in direction of the top of final 12 months after not being paid for eight months. He mentioned he’s owed $100,000, and that about 20 different staff on the website had additionally had wages and superannuation withheld.

Merlin Diamond’s newest quarterly accounts present the corporate had simply $24,000 money. The mine supervisor mentioned staff had been angered when Merlin Diamonds reported diamond gross sales of $700,000 final 12 months.

“It mighn’t appear some huge cash to somebody like Joe, however the guys working on the website get by from pay to pay. He would not perceive the strain that comes with not being paid,” he mentioned.

It was defined to us that unhealthy guys with semi-automatics would possibly are available in a helicopter and steal the diamonds.

A former mine employee

Letters to the company regulator ASIC and the Takeovers Panel present three former senior Merlin staff declare they not did obtain any pay or superannuation from the corporate for 16 months when the mine stopped working in 2015 and 2016. None was supplied a redundancy.

“Collectively we’re owed over $250,000 in unpaid wage, superannuation and wage sacrifice funds,” a December, 2016 letter to the Takeovers Panel said.

Merlin diamonds is closely linked to Gutnick.

Merlin diamonds is carefully linked to Gutnick.

One other letter to ASIC had one worker reporting, “I’ve not acquired a single payslip since Could, 2014”.

The revelations come after The Age and Sydney Morning Herald reported that ASIC has been investigating the corporate’s administrators over $13 million lent to a associated non-public entity, AXIS Consultants.

Merlin Diamonds and AXIS are each carefully linked to Mr Gutnick, his son Mordechai Gutnick and two of his longest-serving enterprise associates, David Tyrwhitt and Peter Lee. Each firms function out of the identical workplace in Melbourne’s Southbank precinct.

The loans from the general public firm to the non-public firm had been by no means repaid, after being written of as “impairments”.

Regulators examine

Each ASIC and the ASX are looking for an evidence from Merlin Diamonds, which is chaired by Mr Gutnick, after he was final 12 months discharged from chapter. They’ve requested why the loans had been unsecured and on no-interest phrases.

In an in depth announcement this week, the ASX disclosed that it had reported Merlin Diamonds to ASIC in December for breaches of the Firms Act. The ASX has accused Merlin Diamonds of offering a response to its queries that “merely is senseless”.

However Mr Gutnick informed The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, “We’re very assured in our place that it [loans] was finished at arm’s size and correctly”.

Merlin Diamonds in December challenged the ASX to elevate its suspension, writing that it had acquired recommendation from senior counsel that it was performing in compliance with the itemizing guidelines.

The corporate additionally taunted the ASX on its continued scrutiny of the corporate and ban on the buying and selling of its shares.

“We respectfully remind you that the ASX just isn’t an enforcement company and that it’s not throughout the remit of the ASX to hunt to ascertain whether or not or not administrators of listed firms have or haven’t complied with their duties at legislation,” Merlin Diamonds wrote.

I’m nonetheless searching for diamonds and gold. And this story is a good distance from over.

Joe Gutnick

Mr Gutnick mentioned the corporate had reached a settlement with one main contractor, who was not owed any cash. The contractor taking authorized motion within the NT to get well $1 million was going through a counter-claim by Merlin Diamonds, Mr Gutnick mentioned.

As for workers, Mr Gutnick mentioned there was not a major quantity owing.

He mentioned the Merlin website was a world-class deposit and diamond discoveries previously 12 months pointed to an encouraging future.

Mr Gutnick mentioned he didn’t know why Merlin Diamonds’s long-standing firm secretary Peter Lee resigned in January.

“I wouldn’t have a clue. He didn’t inform me when he left. He was with me for 26 years within the ups and the downs,” he mentioned.

For all the difficulty the corporate is going through, Mr Gutnick urged shareholders to stay affected person.

“I’m making an attempt my finest for shareholders. I’m a shareholder. I’ve a substantial amount of cash tied up,” he mentioned.

Mr Gutnick needed buyers to recollect he had found among the finest gold deposits in Australia in latest many years.

“I’m nonetheless searching for diamonds and gold. And this story is a good distance from over.”

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