EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION – UPDATE: More people have come forward alleging “shonky” rorts taking place across queer media outlets, with Evo Media now in damage control as its banned company director sends intimidatory late-night legal threats to employees who spoke out to True Crime News Weekly. Our editor, Serkan Ozturk, digs deeper into the growing scandal.
- SAMESAME & GAY NEWS NETWORK WEBSITES ODDLY RESURFACE IN STRANGE NEW FORMS IN A DESPERATE BID TO ESCAPE CREDITORS
- MORE THAN $100,000 IN ADVERTISING PULLED FROM EVO MEDIA FOLLOWING OUR INVESTIGATION
- BANNED EVO MEDIA COMPANY DIRECTOR MARK ANTHONY FIRES OFF LATE-NIGHT LEGAL THREATS TO EMPLOYEES
- ASIC RECORDS SHOW LONG LIST OF COMPANIES PUT INTO ADMINISTRATION FOLLOWING THE INVOLVEMENT OF MR ANTHONY
- MORE EMPLOYEES & CONTRIBUTORS GET IN TOUCH TO BACK UP REPORTS OF MISTREATMENT AND BULLYING
- SCANDAL WIDENS TO INCLUDE OTHER QUEER MEDIA PUBLICATIONS, SUCH AS QNEWS & LOTL
Mainstream media outlets and others have also been in touch with The Age, The Guardian, Crikey and even A Current Affair all now following proceedings after commending True Crime News Weekly on our important investigation into Australia’s largest LGBTIQ publishing house, Evo Media, and its previous incarnation, Evolution Publishing.
Our investigation published earlier this month unveiled a litany of potential crimes, including the long-term underpayment of wages, entitlements and superannuation as well as the company being operated by a banned director.
Coupled to that were credible accusations about longrunning advertising scams centred around highly inflated print and distribution numbers for magazine titles. On occasions, magazines were apparently not printed at all.
True Crime News Weekly has discovered that in its desperation to hold onto advertisers Evo Media has been busy telling anyone who can be bothered listening that our in-depth investigative report backed with physical evidence was somehow “fake news”.
However, True Crime News Weekly understands that ACON has decided to halt all its advertising spend with Evo Media until allegations raised in our investigation are appropriately dealt with. It is believed the decision has cost Evo Media more than $100,000.
A poll that has run concurrently with our report has resulted in about 80 per cent of respondents calling on authorities to investigate both Evo Media as well as the likes of ACON, who were made aware of serious issues at the media company back in 2013. Other major promotional partners such as Sydney Mardi Gras also had knowledge of the alleged rorts taking place for over four years.
EVO MEDIA DIRECTOR MARK ANTHONY SENDS LATE NIGHT LEGAL THREATS AS WEBSITES RESURFACE IN NEW BID TO ESCAPE CREDITORS
In the wake of our investigation, Evo Media has commenced transferring its web properties – including the high-profile SameSame forum – to simple WordPress sites instead of paying the money owed to webmasters to restore the original websites.
The Gay News Network page meanwhile has also shape-shifted but remains down, apparently for “scheduled maintenance”.
The most recent story on the ‘relaunched’ SameSame is dated April 7 with the next most recent article dated April 1, with the remainder of the stories seemingly published all last month.
Years-worth of articles, feature stories, interviews and discussion forums are now seemingly inaccessible and unavailable to view for the foreseeable future.
Less than 18 months after purchasing SameSame from its former owners, Junkee Media, some readers of the website and members of the LGBTIQ community are blaming Evo Media for killing the popular site.
“The website is down because two psychopaths Mark Anthony and Dean Bell have fudged another GLBTI media brand and aren’t paying wages to employees nor to the transition deal with Junkee,” former Evolution Publishing news editor, Rob Edward Smith, wrote on SameSame’s Facebook page.
“Hopefully Junkee can get it back and ensure SS once again gets back on track. Shame on Bell and Anthony.”
Mr Smith has told True Crime News Weekly that he too is owed superannuation by Evolution Publishing.
Not long after our investigation was published, we received reports that Mr Bell had cut off his work email address at Evo Media.
True Crime News Weekly can confirm that Mr Bell’s work email at Evo Media is no longer active.
Several sources reported that Mr Bell was sighted at Sydney’s international airport last week looking for a flight overseas however True Crime News Weekly can state Mr Bell was spotted following the Easter holiday break at the Woolloomooloo cafe, Locanda Olivetti, that he and Mr Anthony operate.
While Mr Bell has gone to ground, his banned co-director, Mr Anthony, has instead spent some of his time sending threatening legal letters in the hours after midnight to former employees who spoke out to True Crime News Weekly as part of our investigation.
True Crime News Weekly has seen copies of the legal threats made by Mr Anthony.
LISTEN TO EVO MEDIA COMPANY DIRECTOR MARK ANTHONY GO ALL SILENT WHEN CONFRONTED BY TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY
Interestingly, an ASIC search conducted on Mr Anthony’s business history turned up a four-page document listing the many companies that he has been involved in and ended up in liquidation, including a company known as Evolution Corporation which was put into administration last year.
True Crime News Weekly understands that several workers who provided labour or services to Evo Media and Evolution Publishing were officially employed or contracted to Evolution Corporation.
Both Mr Bell and Mr Anthony have refused to provide any kind of comment to True Crime News Weekly in response to our investigation.
MORE EMPLOYEES AND CONTRIBUTORS SHARE STORIES OF WOE AT EVO MEDIA & EVOLUTION PUBLISHING
Since our investigation was published, we have received further reports of gross underpayment of staff entitlements such as superannuation and wages as well as allegations of bullying to have taken place at the media companies operated by Mr Anthony and Mr Bell.
One writer who contacted True Crime News Weekly said he had ended up reporting Evo Media to at least four federal corporate regulators after growing tired of chasing them for invoices and never receiving an appropriate response.
“I have recently reported them to ASIC, ATO, AFSA (Australian Financial Security Authority) and ACCC,” he said.
“They owe me money!”
Other freelance contributors have contacted True Crime News Weekly to suggest that it is likely that there are plenty of others also owed money by Mr Anthony.
“One creditor I didn’t see mentioned were the subcontractors like us photographers.
“I was contracted sporadically by Reg [Domingo] and his predecessors to shoot special events. I eventually got most invoices but it took some badgering,” a photographer told True Crime News Weekly.
“My work for them for Mardi Gras 2017 is as yet unpaid. I am sure the other contractors like me are owed money as well.”
DO YOU KNOW MORE? CONTACT TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY
Mr Domingo has also received a strong rebuke from a former senior employee with Evolution Publishing. The former employee told True Crime News Weekly that they were shocked when they saw the longtime senior manager’s denials of ever being aware of the alleged widespread rorts taking place at the company for years.
“I can’t believe that Reg is not admitting his role in all of the lying and false claims,” the source added.
Mr Domingo sent numerous menacing defamation and “cease and desist” legal threats to True Crime News Weekly before our investigation was published.
Another former employee of Evolution Publishing told True Crime News Weekly that our investigation however rang very true to him on a number of fronts.
“I was acting sales manager in Melbourne for Evolution Publishing,” the former employee said.
“I am still owed money from Dean Bell and Mark Anthony and was frequently bullied and forced to enforce dodgy policies on staff that hadn’t been paid.”
OTHER QUEER MEDIA TYCOONS IMPLICATED IN ALLEGED “SHONKY AND VERY DODGY” BEHAVIOUR
Following our investigation, True Crime News Weekly has been contacted by a number of sources suggesting that Evo Media is not the only queer media publisher in Australia alleged to be engaging in widespread employee malpractice.
The publishers of popular lesbian magazine and website, LOTL, as well as Brisbane gay street title QNews have been named as other potential wrongdoers.
“I commend your Evo Media story but would urge you to include Ray Mackereth and QNews in this,” one reader wrote to True Crime News Weekly.
“The sad part after the [Evo Media] staff losing everything is up here in old Queensland, it will just make QNews earn more.”
The source alleged Mr Mackereth has failed to pay a $15,000 judgement made in favour of a former employee in late 2015.
Mr Mackereth was found by a federal court to have engaged in “deliberate and outrageous” conduct towards the employee who he failed to pay annual leave and superannuation for years.
“I can give you info on this as he is such a crook and was found guilty of major contraventions of the Fair Work Act. Then still didn’t pay,” the source claimed.
“Mr Mackereth got a mate to buy QNews, employed himself as publisher and still lives in a mansion.”
Mr Mackereth had filed for bankruptcy two years ago around the time of the court case with the former employee. The magazine publisher did not provide a comment about the claims when afforded an opportunity by True Crime News Weekly.
Of equal concern, a former employee of LOTL has alleged that its publisher, Silke Bader, embarked on a ‘phoenix scam’ to continue to publish the magazine while also allegedly using superannuation payments owed to employees to launch another ultimately doomed publication.
“Instead of paying me super every three months she used the money to keep the business afloat and put it into other dealings like launching a magazine called BOUND which failed, that is where all my super went,” the former LOTL employee informed True Crime News Weekly.
“She put Avalon Media into liquidation who was the company publishing LOTL and surprise surprise just like Evolution Publishing becoming Evo Media she started up another company, L Media, which publishes LOTL.”
The source said she had worked for LOTL for five years, during which she was paid superannuation for only one of those years.
The former employee said she had a “promise” from Ms Bader “in writing” to pay her the thousands of dollars in superannuation that was owed to her.
“She owes me $10,000 in unpaid super,” the former employee confirmed.
“The ATO are investigating my unpaid super but they have told me they can only really look into dealing from 2012 onwards so I will still be missing out on three years of super. Shonky and very dodgy and disgusting behaviour by gay publishing houses. I only wish I had reported her to the ATO sooner before the company went into liquidation.”
The source claimed it was frustrating to see Ms Bader purchase a new magazine in the United Kingdom, DIVA, all the while refusing to pay her employees their legal entitlements.
“I was naive and let my friendship with her cloud my judgment,” the former LOTL employee said.
“Never again … I check my super regularly now.”
An independent source backed up the allegations to True Crime News Weekly about superannuation not being paid by Ms Bader to some of her employees as well as claims of phoenix company activity.
Ms Bader – who is a current board member of Sydney Mardi Gras and was once named by Cleo magazine as the eighth most powerful lesbian in the world – did not comment when provided an opportunity by True Crime News Weekly.
DISCLOSURE: True Crime News Weekly editor Serkan Ozturk was employed with Evolution Publishing between 2011-13 and was the person who first blew the whistle on the company over its consistent failure to pay employee entitlements and superannuation as well as claims of circulation and advertising rorts. If you have any information about this investigation, get in contact with True Crime News Weekly.