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  • #70597
    Paradise
    Flatchatter

      White collar crime is known for corporate types using their oganisation’s funds or committing fraud from inside. Time and again in Flatchat there are posts about opaque payments, personal renovations paid from funds of the owners corporation, dodgy and missing financial reports, etc. But how and when can something be done about it? The average apartment owner doesn’t have the ability or resources to deal with the matter.

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    • #70629
      Jimmy-T
      Keymaster

        OK, it’s hardly whitecollar crime, especially when you consider that a lot of these dodgy deals are done with and by tradies.

        If you have a genuine concern, identify the payments for work that you think were illicit and send a letter to the strata committee and strata manager asking them to verify that these were legitimate payments.

        If you get no reply withing two months, a rejection, or an unsatisfactory response, commence proceedings for mediation at Fair Trading with a view to taking the matter to NCAT.  Fair Trading mediation is free but it is a prerequisite for Tribunal action.

        If there have been dodgy deals, then those responsible may just refund the amounts rather than have their reputations trashed by exposure at Fair Trading and NCAT hearings.

        The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
        #70636
        Paradise
        Flatchatter
        Chat-starter

          Thanks JT. I don’t think tradies can automatically be included. They quote, get a work order, do the job, and get paid. They don’t get involved in the whole strata decision making process.

          As to use/misappropriation of funds some may be inadvertent due to a lack of understanding. It falls into the world of white collar crime (or whatever it can be called) when large sums over many years have been spent but when the matters identified or even just raised there are concerted attempts to obfuscate and of course deny. A person just doesn’t walk into a police station and admit to a crime they just committed. They’re certainly not going to do so at a strata meeting.

           

          #70641
          Jimmy-T
          Keymaster

            Thanks JT. I don’t think tradies can automatically be included. They quote, get a work order, do the job, and get paid. They don’t get involved in the whole strata decision making process.

            The point I was trying to make was that it isn’t just men and women in business suits that are involved.  This is low-level corruption (allegedly) and calling it by another name seems like an exaggeration which doesn’t help your case.

            A person just doesn’t walk into a police station and admit to a crime they just committed. They’re certainly not going to do so at a strata meeting.

            That is a false analogy.  Of course people don’t walk into police stations and admit to crimes – then they will be arrested charged.

            But if you ask someone at a strata meeting if certain things happened on a nod and a wink, and if so, why, they might say: “Look, we’re all doing it so it evens out in the end.”  And they might have a point.

            I suggested you raise the issue by asking a question.  I didn’t expect you to get written confessions but you’d have started a process that might have consequences for any miscreants.

            There are no stratakops and the Fraud Squad would not be interested.  You have to do the heavy lifting yourself,  and that begins with asking pertinent questions in a reasonable tone, which you are perfectly entitled to do.

             

             

            The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
            #70675
            HappyNow
            Flatchatter

              My observation is that ‘the committee’ will ask the tradie to do a little side job for them to get the gig. Nothing is in writing of course, they may be fixing a plumbing issue or painting a common property area for example and the collective committee may ask the tradie to pop in & have a look at their issue.

              No proof of course as a tradie could be going into a committee members apartment to confirm a query, but there are 5 committee members in our owners corporation who have run the complex for 12 of the 13 years since the complex was built & THEIR apartments are perfect as are the regular proxies that vote them in year after year.

              Most Stratas find it difficult to get anyone involved & be on the Committee but not our complex. We have tried to break the pattern by putting our hands up as alternative Committee members but it never changes. White collar crime indeed!

              • This reply was modified 9 months ago by .
              #70696
              kaindub
              Flatchatter

                As Jimmy said, there are no stratakops.

                It’s up,to the owners to make sure everything is above board.

                In my case, we had strata manager paying bills which were for incorrect values, and in some cases not for our strata.

                Quick fix was to move a motion thst all invoices had to be approved by the treasurer before psyment. ( there was no fraud by the strata manager, just silly mistakes)

                If you suspect money is being spent improperly, at thevAGM move a motion thst the books are audited. ( msy need you to get support of other owners to pass). Then move a motion to get your chosen auditor to do the books. DO NOT USE the auditor suggested by the strata manager. These auditors go soft in order to get repeat business from the strata manager. Remember it’s your money that’s being audited and the audit is to make sure thst the money is being spent correctly ( get an auditor familiar with strata ).

                #70736
                Hawcall
                Flatchatter

                  DO NOT USE the auditor suggested by the strata manager. These auditors go soft in order to get repeat business from the strata manager. Remember it’s your money that’s being audited and the audit is to make sure thst the money is being spent correctly ( get an auditor familiar with strata ).

                  An independent and outsider auditor can also go soft in order to get repeat business. Isn’t that right?

                  #75081
                  TheLongView
                  Flatchatter

                    DO NOT USE the auditor suggested by the strata manager. These auditors go soft in order to get repeat business from the strata manager. Remember it’s your money that’s being audited and the audit is to make sure thst the money is being spent correctly ( get an auditor familiar with strata ).

                    An independent and outsider auditor can also go soft in order to get repeat business. Isn’t that right?


                    @Kaindub
                    you are correct. Our Strata Manager has in-house service providers. This includes their auditor.

                    QUESTION ON HOW TO ADDRESS THE CRAP I’VE UNCOVERED.

                    REALLY – Why isn’t it straight up “stealing as a servant’, when the Strata Manager pays bills for work not requested and work not done?

                    Next: In NSW is their a requirement for auditors to be registered AND not a co-owner or related entity of the entity being audited? This one literally shares and office and may be part of the same holding.

                    I asked for an independent auditor (of our choosing) but the strata manager went ahead and appointed their own. My own strata committee declined to back me up (part of the pattern I am noticing). The auditor found nothing but did NOT check any invoices. ( by checking invoices myself I easily found a pattern of dodgy billing – mistakes always in the same direction)

                    Where do I go looking for an auditor who will actually check the invoices match the accounts? And must they be approved by and appointed by the strata committee ? I am asking as the VOTE for getting an auditor will have to happen at AGM. And THEN the Strata Committee meeting all have the option to choose an auditor. I wish to provide our SC a list of 2 or 3.

                    SUMMARY AND QUESTIONS

                    1a. The accounts are wrong/can’t be assessed tone right….. If we voted at AGM  NOT TO ACCEPT THE ACCOUNTS as correct at AGM what is the process? We didn’t accept then at last AGM as the strata manager was not giving us any access to invoices. So if we do this 2 yrs In a row what’s the deal?

                    1b. No idea where to find auditor for strata. Is there a professional body with a list ?

                    2. Complains and exposure. I will complain to the strata manager and the alleged auditor we paid for last time as they obviously didn’t do a full check.

                    AND THEN REMEDIES – what do I do to correct the “mistakes” I have found?

                    Step one: email strata and each entity sending dodgy bills for work not done to immediately refund the amount , and  an explanation. (and if their actions or explanation unsatisfactory, report to NCAT and police. ? Or why not report them ANYWAY as a pattern in behaviour? I don’t follow the logic above, that by paying you back they prevent their survey deeds being uncovered by the NCAT. Putting something back doesn’t mean you didn’t steal it the first time. My lost time, distress and frustration count.

                    If I spend a week reviewing all bills and accounts , can I reasonably claim that expense for correcting their thefts/mistakes? Is that an NCAT thing?

                    -step two: mediation, apparently (above)

                    -step three:NCAT tribunal (effectively small claims

                    – step four: Of I am not satisfied explanations around the  already detected mispayments, fraudulent claims for work not done, bills paid without our authority (after strata manager was told not to pay bills unless 2 committee members had approved) Why not tell the police now? Why give someone the benefit to the doubt, and a way to cover their tracks and avoid detection and prosecution? If they are doing it to one strata, then they are doing it to many, surely.  They need to be stopped and an interested investigator would probably uncover a lot.

                    SCENARIO. If I send your strata a $1000 invoice for work I didn’t do, that wasn’t asked for, and it gets paid without your strata committee (despite process in place), that is fraud. It’s not an accident I accidentally made. Especially if I keep doing it. BOTH I AND THE STRATA MANAGER have committed fraud/stealing.

                    I don’t understand why this isn’t seen by the comments above as a straight up police matter? (Or have you all tried and become cynical / resigned that nothing changes/police don’t investigate even when shown multiple false invoices?).

                     

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