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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16558


Mr Murphy asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 6 February 2003:

(1) For the purposes of section 263 of the Bankruptcy Act, (a) can he say whether Mr Stephen Archer, a declared bankrupt due to be let out of bankruptcy by his trustee in 2005, has attempted to conceal property of the bankrupt either during the term of this current bankruptcy or during the term of any other bankruptcy he has been the subject of s.263(1)(a); if so, what is that property and what action can the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) take with respect to the provisions of section 263; if not, why not and (b) is he aware of Mr Archer's wife ever having received such property in terms of s.263(1)(b).

(2) Upon a finding of any attempt by Mr and Mrs Archer to conceal property and given the history of the case of Mr Archer, will he encourage the DPP to pursue the full weight of the law, namely the indictable offence penalty of three years imprisonment; if not, why not.

(3) For the purposes of subsection 264(2), is he aware of any property previously owned by, in the title of Mr Archer, which has been disposed of, received, moved, retained or concealed by him that has been seized; if so, what is that property.

(4) For the purpose of section 263A of the Act, can he say whether Mr Archer has made any affidavits known to be false; if so, what are those affidavits and what action is being taken to bring Mr Archer to justice.

(5) For the purpose of section 263B of the Act, can he say whether Mr Archer has made any false proofs of debt; if so, what are those affidavits and what action is being taken to bring Mr Archer to justice.

(6) For the purpose of section 264A of the Act, can he say whether it is known that Mr Archer intends not to appear before the full examination at the Federal Court on 19-20 February 2003.

(7) If Mr Archer does fail to appear at this examination, can he say whether the DPP will take all punitive action to commence proceedings for Mr Archer's arrest and trial to face charges under this provision that may impose a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment; if not, why not.

(8) If Mr Archer fails to appear at the full examination of the Federal Court, will he recommend to the DPP pursuant to subsection 264A(2) that further proceedings be initiated for contempt of court; if not, why not.

(9) In light of the fact that this is Mr Archer's third bankruptcy, if Mr Archer fails to appear at the full examination, can he say whether the DPP will seek to arrest Mr Archer under the provisions of section 264B of the Act; if not, why not.

(10) If Mr Archer does appear at the listed examination and either refuses to be sworn or refuses to give evidence, can he say what steps the DPP will take to implement the punitive provisions of section 264C of the Act; if not, why not.

(11) Pursuant to section 265 of the Act, can he say whether Mr Archer is known to have failed to disclose property; if so, what is that property and what action under this or another provision has the DPP taken against Mr Archer for so doing.

(12) Can he say whether, pursuant to section 266 of the Act, whether the DPP has established whether Mr Archer has attempted to, or actually disposed of, property during any of the three bankruptcy applications after the presentation of a petition; if so, what action under this provision has been taken by the DPP and when was it taken.

(13) Can he say whether the DPP has established whether Mr or Mrs Archer has made any false declaration to the Court within the meaning of (a) section 267, (b) section 267B or (c) 267C with respect to any of the previous or current bankruptcies; if so, what are those declarations.

(14) Pursuant to section 269, can he say whether the DPP has established whether Mr Archer has obtained credit at any time during any of his three periods of bankruptcies; if so, what are the details of these credit applications including dates, borrower and amounts and what action has the DPP taken with respect to this conduct.

(15) Pursuant to section 270, can he say whether the DPP has established whether Mr Archer has kept proper books of account during his three periods of bankruptcy; if so, will he table these accounts in Parliament; if not, why not.

(16) Can he say whether the DPP has established what are the particulars of the trust that currently exists on Mr Archer's bankrupt estate.

(17) Can he say whether the DPP has established whether Mr Archer's bankrupt estate is a Part X arrangement or some other assignment; if so, what is that arrangement or assignment.

(18) Can he say whether the DPP has established whether Mr Archer has kept books as prescribed in section 277A of the Act; if not, why not; if so, will he table these books in Parliament; if not, why not.


Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) A public examination of Mr Archer was held in Sydney on 19 February 2003. I understand that Mr Archer denied that he had ever been a party to a transaction that might fall under ss 263 (1)(a) or 263 (1)(b) of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (the Act). In relation to the two earlier bankruptcies administered by the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA) on behalf of the Official Trustee, I am advised that ITSA is not aware of any transaction that would have been covered by these subsections.

(2) It is a matter for the trustee of Mr Archer's current bankruptcy to consider whether there is evidence of any offence against the Act to refer to ITSA's Fraud Investigation Section or the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

(3) I am not aware of any such property.

(4) I have no knowledge of any affidavits that Mr Archer may have sworn that are known to be false. I understand that Mr Donnelly, trustee of the current bankruptcy, is continuing his investigations and has not reached any conclusions that may be relevant to that.

(5) I am advised that ITSA is not aware of any false proofs of debt being lodged in relation to either of the bankruptcies that it administered.

(6) Mr Archer appeared at his public examination.

(7) (8) and (9) Mr Archer appeared, so no answer is necessary.

(10) Mr Archer did not refuse to be sworn and I understand that he did not refuse to give evidence.

(11) ITSA, as trustee of Mr Archer's first two bankruptcies, was not aware that Mr Archer had failed to disclose any such property. Mr Donnelly, trustee of the current bankruptcy, is continuing his investigations and I understand has not reached any conclusions.

(12) ITSA, as trustee of Mr Archer's first two bankruptcies, was not aware of any such disposals. Mr Donnelly, trustee of the current bankruptcy, is continuing his investigations and I understand has not reached any conclusions.

(13) ITSA, as trustee of Mr Archer's first two bankruptcies, was not aware of any such false declarations. Mr Donnelly, trustee of the current bankruptcy, is continuing his investigations and I understand has not reached any conclusions.

(14) ITSA, as trustee of Mr Archer's first two bankruptcies, was not aware of any such credit application. Mr Donnelly, trustee of the current bankruptcy, is continuing his investigations and I understand has not reached any conclusions.

(15) The DPP, as the prosecuting authority, would have no involvement or role in respect of investigating books of account. If any relevant books were to exist, it would not be appropriate for me to table them as they would be under the control of the trustee and, ultimately, the Federal Court.

(16) The DPP has no involvement or role in examining any of Mr Archer's trusts, as no allegations of an offence have been made.

(17) A Part X arrangement is not a bankruptcy. It does not require the DPP to establish that, it is a matter of fact.

(18) Section 277A of the Act relates to the keeping of books during the course of the bankruptcy. ITSA, as trustee of Mr Archer's first two bankruptcies, was not aware of any deficiencies in his bookkeeping. Mr Donnelly, trustee of the current bankruptcy, is continuing his investigations and has not reached any conclusions. If the books exist, I will not be tabling them in Parliament for the reasons set out in my answer to part (15).