The board of AMA Group has filed federal court proceedings against former CEO Andy Hopkins.
The ASX announcement says the proceeding are: 'for the recovery of amounts in excess of $2.4 million relating to (i) unauthorised expenses incurred by or on behalf of Mr Hopkins as CEO of the Company (c$1 million) and (ii) the repayment of an outstanding loan which is now due and payable (c$1.4 million).
"This claim results from the findings of an investigation by leading forensic accounting firm McGrath Nicol of a number of whistleblower complaints made with respect to the actions of Mr Hopkins while he was a senior executive with the Company.'
Hopkins resigned from the company and the board at the end of January amid alligations of financial misconduct, which he denies, and was replaced as CEO by Carl Bizon. As well as alleged unapproved expenses, Hopkins purchased not just one but three Land Rovers for his immediate family using company funds and kitted each of them out with personalised number plates according to a story in the The Australian titled AMA's pile-up. The story cites its source as the independent financial investigation report by McGrathNicol. For his wife Rachel a $150,000 Discovery with plates 1RH, for his son Edward a $69,000 Defender with 1EH and for his daugher Florence a $36,000 Range Rover Evoque with 1FH. Elsewhere in the report the Australian says is more than $21,000 billed to the company for painting payments completed on the Hopkins' personal residence and winery 'Swings and Roundabouts,' in Yalingup, Western Australia.
Since his departure the group has lost much of its senior management as well as centre managers and general staff with sources saying that there are currently well over 100 job vacancies within the group.
New CEO Car Bizon issued an internal memo today to AMA staff. It begins: "I expect that you are aware that we are taking legal action against our former CEO for conduct unbecoming of someone in his position. I wish that I could say that it was limited to one individual, but it was not and we have been taking the necessary action to to remove this behaviour from out business."
Bizon goes on to say: "Recently I presented to the board a strategic plan and vision for the business, which they have accepted in full. We will continue our vision of creating a compelling participant [sic] in all sectors of the motor vehicle collision industry - from heavy through to rapid - as well as continuing to push to unlock the value that is available in parts and consumables supply. We are committed to growth in our repair and parts businesses - by expanding our current sites with more business, opening new greenfield sitesand constant progress with acquisitions. We have strong support from our stakholders for the vision I have outlined."
The memo concludes with Bizon saying he is in the process of selecting a number of people to join the company in senior executive positions and says: "We are constantly on the lookout for talented members to join our team, and appreciate anything you can do to encourage people to come and join us in our journey."