It looks as though the ongoing saga of self-proclaimed Google challenger, Uglii Group, is coming to an end, with the Federal Court of Australia ordering that the company, and its associated businesses, be wound up.
The decision, which was made on 6 December, comes after an ongoing legal battle between the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Uglii Corporation, a Victorian information technology development company.
Uglii Corporation, which was incorporated in 1998, and based in Traralgon, Victoria, is an unlisted public company with approximately 2,500 shareholders.
Its group of companies includes Traralgon Technology Holdings, Uglii Find Australia, BizMo, Projects Discovery Services, and Global Ads System.
The case began when ASIC became concerned that the Uglii Group companies were unable to pay their debts, with the corporate regulator saying at the time that it "lacked confidence" in the management of the companies.
Now, the Federal Court of Australia has ordered that all of the companies, with the exception of Global Ads System, be wound up, and that Robyn Erskine and Adrian Hunter of Brooke Bird be appointed as liquidators for the companies.
On 8 September 2016 the Federal Court, following an application by ASIC, ordered that the liquidators be appointed to Uglii and the associated companies on a provisional basis to look into the organisations' affairs.
The latest Court order, made by Justice Jennifer Davies, was decided on the basis that each of the companies had been found to be insolvent, according to ASIC.
The decision follows claims by ASIC that Uglii made various representations to its thousands of investors over a number of years concerning the alleged value of intellectual property it was in the process of developing.
But Uglii did not generate any trading income during its existence, according to ASIC.
Uglii Group made headlines in December last year, when Fairfax Media suggested that Uglii’s founder and CEO, John Knorr, was using the companies to run a “honey-trap” that netted at least $25 million from around 3,600 mostly unsophisticated investors.
Knorr, who was a director of the company and its associated businesses, claimed he had founded a Google competitor, with backers such as HSBC, and China’s postal system, according to the Fairfax Media report.
Additionally, during an investor "webinar" in late 2015, Knorr claimed that that Uglii would also be a boon for the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey thanks to its localised search engine technology patents, the report said.
After ASIC moved in, the technology company was left facing winding up calls amid allegations of “serious corporate misconduct”, directed specifically at the six companies within the wider Uglii Group.