SecureData entitlements bill may top $1 million

Around 50 former and current employees of SecureData could spend Christmas wrangling with secured and unsecured creditors for their outstanding superannuation and entitlements, as an administrator probes the recent sale of the storage integrator's assets.

SecureData administrator, Mark Robinson of PPB, told IDG his firm is currently investigating the sale of the company to Dimension Data on November 26. The administrator is also looking into the recent sale of its subsidiary business, DataBank, allegedly to a family relative of SecureData managing director, Evan Penn.

PPB was appointed as administrator to the SecureData company shell by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) on December 3.

Robinson said initial figures suggested outstanding employee entitlements were "close to $1 million dollars". He warned his firm would have to "make a very successful recovery of the debt ledger to get a meaningful dividend to creditors" in light of the current situation.

"If there has been an offence it will be reported to ASIC," he said. "If [we have reason to believe DataBank] was sold for below [market value] it will be reported [to ASIC]. One of our primary issues of concern is the sale of the two companies."

Robinson also confirmed the sale of SecureData subsidiary DataBank "to a relation" of SecureData managing director Evan Penn prior to SecureData entering administration will also come under the administrator's gaze. The business was reportedly sold in the last few months.

"My obligation is to investigate the nature of that transaction and that sale. The number one issue is to determine whether the sales were for the full commercial value," Robinson said.

Dimension Data's acquisition of SecureData's business assets included its 51 per cent stake in SQL Services, as well as the company's intellectual property, client base and existing vendor partnerships. As part of the deal, the integrator will also take approximately 50 per cent of SecureData's staff.

An official figure on the amount of the deal has not been disclosed.

SecureData managing director, Evan Penn, said the decision to sell the company had been made within a month of the company being bought by Dimension Data. He said the increasing competitive nature of the market had forced the sale.

The purchase price was not enough to cover all of its existing creditors, Penn said.

Dimension Data public relations manager, Martin Aungle, confirmed the deal had not included coverage of the company's liabilities.

"We were not purchasing the company, so we have not taken on its liabilities," he said.

Alongside employees, SecureData's other unsecured creditors are understood to include EMC, Veritas, Hitachi Data Systems, Network Appliance, HP, Dynamic Supplies and XSI.

One creditor, who insisted on anonymity, complained an initial creditor's meeting called had left out many of those owed substantial amounts of money. The source said a number of creditors were currently drafting letters of complaint to ASIC, calling for an investigation.

Robinson said he hoped to complete his investigation by Christmas, adding a second creditor's meeting would be held shortly.

- Nadia Cameron contributed to this report.

(Nadia Cameron contributed to this report.)

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