The Sydney MSP Forum Group is for sale after the bank of the Westpac company filed a lawsuit against founder Bill Papas.
2nd of July, Reuters reported that the bank had taken legal action against Papas to recover the $ 285 million it claims was stolen by Papas who are believed to be living in Greece, according to The Australian Financial Review.
French investment bank Societe Generale is also suing Papas and one of his other companies for $ 9 million for alleged fraudulent loans.
The company was listed for sale on the Instruction of Voluntary Administrators, Domenic Calabretta, Thyge Trafford Jones and Grahame Ward of the law firm Mackay Goodwin after the company went into voluntary administration on Monday, July 11.
Four entities related to Forum Group have received liquidation requests from Westpac, namely Forum Enviro Pty Ltd, Forum Enviro (Aust) Pty Ltd, Forum Group Pty Ltd and Forum Group Financial Services Pty Ltd. The bank is represented by MinterEllison.
Mackay Goodwin did not respond to CRN’s request for information.
Founded in December 2011 as a managed IT services group focused on desktop printers and copiers, Forum Group later expanded into accounts payable and paperless document systems.
The company has a turnover of around $ 45 million, from some 2,000 large corporations, NGOs and charities, and currently employs some 126 people, according to the sales list.
“The business concept and performance has proven to be valuable to its customers and provides a proven and successful IT services platform at a cost significantly lower than the cost of starting a new business of the same type,” says the announcement of sale.
At the center of the turmoil are reports that Papas falsified client signatures in order to obtain Westpac loans where the client was listed as a debtor when the money went directly to Papas through Forum Finance, one of Papas’ other companies.
Sydney-based MSP Tecala struck a deal with Forum Group for client referrals in September 2020 and the company’s chief executive, Pieter DeGunst, told CRN that the company received the information about the controversy surrounding Papas when ‘it was revealed in the press on Friday July 2.
“We quickly sought a communication from the Forum as to what was going on, but there was no real response, Bill [Papas] was not reachable.
“We really had to react to the banking activity and also, this Forum was put into administration, which guided our decision. “
DeGunst said he made the decision to end the deal with Forum Group on Monday, July 5.
“Since then we have spoken to one of the clients that we have jointly engaged with, or where there are prospects currently on the table, we are now doing direct business with those clients.
“Fortunately, from our point of view, the partnership was really just a benchmark partnership, so we have no trade exposure, no joint contract.
Degunst said he had never had a personal relationship with Papas and that the agreement with Forum Group was purely commercial.
“We’ve always been careful with our partnerships anyway, in terms of referral partners who can bring you clients that you can speak directly and do business with, rather than tie your company to that organization, which we don’t. have never done.
“I would probably say that’s the thing people need to consider when forming partnerships.”
Degunst said Tecala did not intend to buy Forum Group.
“The managed print side of the business is not a business we are in. So no, we have no intention. The company is obviously under the control of the directors. So I imagine any of the managed print vendors or anyone in that space would probably take a look, because they have a reasonably large scale and customer base. We don’t see anything to do with it.
Tuesday July 13, AFR reported that at least 30 jobs had been lost within the Iugis companies within the Forum Group of Companies, which is the ultimate parent company of a series of Forum companies.