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Global vendors chase Aussie distributors for millions

Schneider Electric and Kaspersky Lab continue their efforts to recoup millions from the companies formerly known as DPSA and Hemisphere Technologies

Aussie distributors, Hemisphere Technologies and DPSA, have both been wound up and placed into liquidation, but that hasn’t put an end to efforts by two global vendors, Kaspersky lab and Schneider Electric, to recoup cash they claim is owed to them by the local companies.

The fallout between DPSA and Schneider Electric was made public last year, with both companies going to court over an apparent $5.4 million in debt that DPSA allegedly owed Schneider Electric.

According to court documents filed at the time, the dispute and debt arose from a contractual arrangement with one of DPSA's customers, Canberra Data Centres (CDC).

Disagreements sprouted when DPSA supplied 12 Schneider Electric HACS pods in June 2015, with the remaining 40 pods subsequently supplied by the vendor directly.

In late March, the Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled in favour of Schneider Electric in its case over the allegedly unpaid debts, after DPSA withdrew its counter-claim against Schneider.

DPSA was placed into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 31 March, immediately following the court’s decision.

Now, Schneider is claiming the liquidated company, now known as ‘ACN 134 017 173 Pty Ltd’, owes it almost $7 million.

According to documents lodged with ASIC, creditors are owed more than $7.3 million, with Schneider claiming more than $6.9 million of that amount. Also on the list of creditors are Data#3 and Datacom Systems.

Schneider Electric regional credit and collections manager, Joe Laban, said at a creditors’ meeting for the liquidated company held in mid-April that the vendor had issued a statutory demand against the company formerly known as DPSA in March 2017, which expired in April.

Laban stated at the creditors’ meeting that he had concerns about the appointment of O’Brien Palmer as liquidator, suggesting that the company was “avoiding payment of its debts by winding up”, and that the “true financial position of the company and the Trust had not been disclosed to the liquidator”.

Additionally, Laban claimed that the company had “incurred more unpaid liabilities than would be expected from a company operating a business $25 million annual turnover”, and that an independent investigation would not be carried out by the liquidator, Liam Bailey, as he had been appointed by DPSA’s former director, Jacques Tesson.

Laban proposed replacing the liquidator with Schneider’s own nominated liquidator, KordaMentha.

The measure was opposed by the liquidated company’s external accountant, Scott Wiemer, on the grounds that costs would be higher under such a move and that Schneider’s intentions may be to “get revenge against the Director” and “damage his new business”.

According to the Wiemer, a Schneider executive had approached a customer of CertaOne and “badmouthed” the company – a charge denied by Laban.

Regardless, Laban later got legal backing to replace O’Brien Palmer with KordaMentha as liquidator for the company formerly known as DPSA.

Investigations continue.

Schneider’s efforts to get its hands on its claims against the company formerly known as DPSA comes after similar efforts by Kaspersky Lab UK to recoup millions of dollars it alleges it is owed by the Australian-based distributor formerly known as Hemisphere Technologies, which was placed into liquidation in January.

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The liquidation came two months after Hemisphere Technologies and Kaspersky Lab UK became locked in a legal battle spanning two countries, over the alleged non-payment of royalties to the cyber security software vendor.

The two companies were involved in legal proceedings in both Australia and Sweden to settle a dispute in which, according to court documents, Kaspersky alleges that Hemisphere Technologies owes it royalties from several months' worth of distribution partnership between the two businesses.

A cross-claim by Hemisphere Technologies subsequently alleged Kaspersky had breached elements of its contract with the distributor.

However, Hong Kong-based investor, Harry Cheung, joined Hemisphere Technologies in December as a new company shareholder, effectively acquiring the distributor’s assets and leaving behind a shell company in the process.

In 2008, Cheung took the role of managing director of Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific, introducing the business to the market virtually from scratch, forming a close working relationship with Mamonitis, who was the vendor’s A/NZ managing director until February 2016.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Mamonitis, as managing director of the new company, also become company shareholder, with Cheung taking up the role of chairman within the business.
As a result, former Hemisphere Technologies director, Peter Phokos, left the distributor to pursue other business interests.

Now, the shell company, known as A.C.N. 152 546 453 Pty Ltd (formerly known as Hemisphere Technologies Pty Ltd), is in liquidation.

However, during a creditors’ meeting in January, Bird & Bird associate, Matthew Mulcahy, representing Kaspersky Lab, raised concerns over the liquidation of the company formerly known Hemisphere Technologies.

Mulcahy advised that his client was concerned that a new company, also named Hemisphere technologies had been created to carry on the company’s business, pointing out that former Hemisphere Technologies managing director, Andrew Mamonitis, was a director of the new company.

For his part, Mamonitis has denied any wrongdoing, stating that he was an employee of Hemisphere Technologies and, as such, has no involvement at all with the liquidated company.

In March, however, the new business, which briefly also took on the name, Hemisphere Technologies, went through a rebranding, emerging with the new name,Thousand Hands Technologies.

Thousand Hands Technologies sits under the larger Chinese company, Thousand Hands.

Mamonitis told ARN that the new entity has no bearing on the company formerly known as Hemisphere Technologies, even though it bought assets off the distributor.

“No relationships or agreements were brought forward from the other entity,” he said. “This is a brand new entity with nothing to do with Hemisphere technologies.”