EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION – PART FOUR: It’s the sensational and quite frankly horrifying media and community corruption scandal that simply won’t go away and has now led to death threats being made against True Crime News Weekly by a former senior employee of the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) which also implicates the organisation’s CEO.
We can also now reveal that Australia’s self-proclaimed largest LGBTIQ media group, Evo Media, has suffered a further exodus of senior staff in recent weeks after not receiving wages or superannuation, leaving the company now unable to print its magazines or produce any content whatsoever. It comes as Evo Media faces a complaint of fraud being investigated by NSW Police and charges from the corporate regulator, ASIC.
In another explosive revelation, sources have informed True Crime News Weekly that the issues plaguing Evo Media have been an open secret in Sydney’s LGBTIQ community for up to 10 years with the taxpayer-funded ACON one of the many organisations having apparent knowledge of the corporate shenanigans over that time. Our focus on ACON’s role in the long-running alleged scams has now led to serious murder threats being made by its recently departed “senior manager”, Michael Badorrek, in a message that Mr Badorrek meant to be shared with ACON’s CEO, Nicolas Parkhill. Without fear or favour, True Crime News Weekly editor, Serkan Ozturk, once again wades into the cesspool of alleged deceit, deception and dishonesty that has been rotting away for too long while so many people and authorities turned a blind eye.
- BANNED EVO MEDIA COMPANY DIRECTOR MARK ANTHONY WRITES RAMBLING LATE-NIGHT MESSAGE BLAMING TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY FOR HIS ALLEGED CORPORATE CRIMES & OTHER RORTS
- EVO MEDIA’S BIGGEST ADVERTISER, ACON, FINALLY SEVERS RELATIONSHIP WITH MEDIA GROUP BUT ONLY AFTER ALLEGEDLY KNOWING ABOUT RORTS FOR CLOSE TO 10 YEARS
- FORMER ACON “SENIOR MANAGER” MICHAEL BADORREK MAKES DEATH THREATS TOWARDS TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY TELLING ACON CEO NICOLAS PARKHILL HE WILL “ORGANISE A HIT FROM ASIA”
- EVO MEDIA OWNERS ADMIT IN THEIR OWN WORDS THEY HAD ALMOST HALF-A-MILLION DOLLARS TO FUNNEL INTO A CAFE, WHILE NOT PAYING EMPLOYEES
- CAFE WORKERS OWED MONEY SAY THEY WERE EMPLOYED ILLEGALLY AND PAID BELOW-AWARD WAGES & NO SUPERANNUATION EITHER
- SAMESAME EDITORS & OTHER SENIOR STAFF DEPART EVO MEDIA AS COMPANY CRUMBLES WHILE MORE EMPLOYEES REPORT MAJOR RIP-OFFS
- BROUGHT TO THE BRINK OF POVERTY AND MENTAL DISTRESS, ONE EMPLOYEE VISITS HOME OF MR ANTHONY TO DELIVER A UNIQUE MESSAGE
Our continuing investigation first published in early April unveiled a litany of potential crimes, including the long-term underpayment of wages, entitlements and superannuation as well as the alleged illegal activities of its banned company director, Mark Anthony. The basis for those allegations to occur over the past four years was an alleged ‘phoenix scam’ pulled by Mr Anthony and his romantic partner and Evo Media’s ‘official’ sole director, Dean Bell, in 2013 when Evo Media was known as Evolution Publishing.
That company was driven into administration by Mr Anthony owing about a half a million dollars just to the ATO as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in superannuation and entitlements to employees, as well as about a quarter of a million dollars to suppliers. It is believed this time that Evo Media owes perhaps close to $1 million in superannuation alone. The media company also owe various suppliers tens of thousands of dollars including for office rent and printing services.
It has also been confirmed this week that NSW Police have commenced an investigation into the alleged fraud committed by Evo Media, as first revealed by True Crime News Weekly late last month. The media company have been accused of fraudulently purchasing thousands of dollars worth of event tickets which forced the cancellation of the Ultimate 90s Dance Party that was supposed to be held this weekend at Oxford Street’s famous Midnight Shift bar.
Coupled to that have been credible accusations about long-running advertising and circulation scams centred around highly inflated print and distribution numbers for magazine titles. On occasions, magazines were apparently not printed or distributed at all with employees who raised questions about such matters being ostracised or dismissed.
FINALLY FOUND! – WATCH ASIC SERVE CHARGES ON EVO MEDIA’S MARK ANTHONY A FEW HOURS AFTER THIS STORY WAS PUBLISHED AS TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY ASKS THE QUEER MEDIA MAGNATE A SERIES OF QUESTIONS
BANNED EVO MEDIA DIRECTOR MARK ANTHONY BLAMES “THE OZTURK ISSUE” FOR THE FAILING COMPANY’S MAJOR PROBLEMS IN ANOTHER LATE-NIGHT RANT
In an email sent to employees at almost 10pm on the Friday evening of April 28, following yet another week of staff not receiving their wages, Mr Anthony was once again busy weaving a wild tale that makes little sense. He also blames the editor of this publication, as well as a former senior sales employee, as the cause of all his troubles.
“Whilst I don’t as yet have the final fix to the Ozturk issue it is continuing to cause the company issues,” Mr Anthony wrote in his evening missive.
“[BLANK] with some assistance from [BLANK] has been working on collections but clients have been considerably slower in paying, impacting cashflow as your [sic] aware, as it is impacting yourselves.
READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION IN FULL
“I thought it is important for you to known [sic] what is contributing to the further delay in salary. I should note that our lawyer is working pro bono for us until the Ozturk issue is dealt with, that means no cash is being used on legal fees currently. A private funder has been factoring our debtors and agreed to increase our factoring limit earlier this year to fund payroll, the facility isn’t as efficient when collections start slowing.
“Next week I will bring forward a solution to the Ozturk issue and thus our cashflow but until then the company asks for some days patience from you and whilst continuing with your daily work activities and tasks.”
Signing the late-night rambling message off, Mr Anthony then thought he could appease his employees with a meagre percentage of their weekly salary, conveniently forgetting about the months of backpay owed and years of unpaid superannuation.
“Tonight and tomorrow the company will deposit a small part salary into your account,” Mr Anthony wrote at the very end of the message.
True Crime News Weekly can confirm that Mr Anthony has not been able to “bring forward a solution to the Ozturk issue” three weeks after sending his desperate email to staff. True Crime News Weekly can as well confirm that Mr Anthony did not even deposit a “small part salary” into the bank accounts of his employees as promised. True Crime News Weekly can also state that the former senior employee whom Mr Anthony berates and disparages in his email message – in a potentially defamatory manner – has never provided this publication with any private company information, or indeed any documents whatsoever, for our investigation.
MORE SENIOR EMPLOYEES DEPART EVO MEDIA AND PRAISE TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY FOR REVEALING THE TRUTH
It seems though that many of Mr Anthony’s few remaining employees are no longer falling for his outlandish excuses and dubious late-night reasoning, with a number of senior and long-serving staff members all departing in the past fortnight.
The group includes SameSame’s national editor, Samuel Leighton-Dore, as well as the website’s Victoria state editor, Dean Arcuri, and a senior sales account manager in Melbourne who was employed with Evolution Publishing until its collapse in 2013 and then Evo Media.
LISTEN TO EVO MEDIA COMPANY DIRECTOR MARK ANTHONY GO ALL SILENT WHEN CONFRONTED BY TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY
Speaking with True Crime News Weekly, Mr Leighton-Dore praised this publication for publicising the plight of employees who have been placed under immense strain and pressure, particularly over the last eight months.
“It’s because of the important journalism that True Crime News Weekly has done that has helped some of the staff see exactly what was going on,” he said. “It was a very difficult situation.”
Mr Leighton-Dore also took to social media on May 4 to publicly post about his departure from Evo Media, saying he was “finally FREE … again”, with the Facebook message garnering over 150 likes and other positive reactions.
A couple days later, Mr Arcuri then posted on Facebook that he too had been forced to resign from his position as SameSame’s Victorian editor after four years in the role.
“Just putting up a status to inform those who have been asking that I have made the decision to stop working as Victorian Editor of SameSame.com.au after over four years working for the online publication,” he wrote to more than 200 likes and other reactions.
“It’s disappointing that circumstances have forced my hand in this regard, however I will continue to serve my community as I have been in a different way as soon as I figure out what that is. Please do not contact me asking for ‘gossip or the downlow’, this is my life and not for your entertainment.”
The only remaining employees at Evo Media as far as True Crime News Weekly understands are Mr Anthony’s personal assistant, Mal Moody, and editorial director, Cec Busby. It is unclear what tasks they are completing on behalf of Mr Anthony, or their reasons for staying. At the end of last month, Mr Moody told a source while in a panic that “there are major problems at Evo Media” and admitted that he himself has not been paid his wages for at least six weeks. Meanwhile, Ms Busby has been unable to contact Mr Anthony in any shape or form for at least two weeks. Mr Bell – as the company’s official sole director – has also gone missing in action, first switching off his work email address and then shutting down his mobile phone.
The SameSame website has not been updated since early April with the Gay News Network website remaining down for supposed “scheduled maintenance”. While there are reports of a distinct lack of Evo Media’s suite of glossy print magazines – SX, MCV, Queensland Pride and Blaze – to be found anywhere in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
However, there may be some slight hope for SameSame, at the very least, to return to its former glory days before Evo Media purchased the high-profile website in September 2015. True Crime News Weekly has recently been contacted by SameSame’s founder, Andre Lackmann, who commented in a short email message that he had taken back the SameSame.com.au domain name from Evo Media.
“It would seem that samesame.com.au is back in the hands of its old owners as on 14 April 2017,” Mr Lackmann wrote on May 7.
A public ‘Whois’ search of domain names seems to back up Mr Lackmann’s claim. True Crime News Weekly had been previously informed that Evo Media had not abided by the contract of sale when purchasing the website from its then-owners Junkee Media (who were previously branded as The Sound Alliance) 18 months ago.
THEY WON’T PAY EMPLOYEES BUT EVO MEDIA OWNERS BRAG ABOUT HAVING ALMOST $500,000 TO WASTE ON A CAFE THEY HAVE NOW BEEN EVICTED FROM
In perhaps a sign of the warped priorities Evo Media’s owners have held for a long time, True Crime News Weekly can reveal that Mr Anthony and Mr Bell have admitted in their own words that they had access to almost $500,000 in cash just 12 months ago. But rather than using that money to pay their own employees the hundreds of thousands of dollars they owe them, they seemingly decided that such funds would be better spent purchasing the Locanda Olivetti cafe on 140 William Street, Woolloomooloo – which is situated in the same building where Evo Media was based for almost 15 years until December last year.
The pair were forcibly evicted from the cafe late last month after failing to pay rent on time on more than one occasion. Mr Anthony is also believed to owe the same building owner more than $50,000 in rent for Evo Media’s former offices. A court hearing will take place regarding that issue in central Sydney at the John Maddison Tower on Wednesday, May 17, with total costs of more than $100,000 to be awarded against Mr Anthony if he once again fails to show up for the case.
The admission by the pair about how much spending money they had was made on April 27, just a day before Mr Anthony’s late-night message to employees promising them a “small part salary” which never arrived.
“As you will have notice [sic] the Landlord has again locked us out of a lease that we have not breached and claims to have resumed a business that we paid the Landlord $400 000 for twelve months ago,” Mr Anthony and Mr Bell wrote in another desperate message, this time to suppliers to their now defunct cafe.
“The café was sold to us for $400 000, $290 000 was paid in cash on settlement being the 4 April 2016 and 24 monthly payments of $4583.33 each month.
“There are no staff wages outstanding, and we have 23 suppliers’ outstanding.”
As well as almost two dozen suppliers to the cafe being owed tens of thousands of dollars, True Crime News Weekly has discovered that Mr Anthony and Mr Bell were seemingly pulling some of their old tricks at their shortlived new business, with their claims of “no staff wages outstanding” being labelled false by workers who were employed by the couple at Locanda Olivetti.
An international student who was employed as a casual at the cafe has told True Crime News Weekly that he is owed at least $400 in wages but has confirmed he was only being paid $17-an-hour cash-in-hand despite federal workplace laws stating casuals should be receiving more than $22-an-hour as a minimum wage. Cash-in-hand payments to staff are also illegal under workplace law but are rampant in the hospitality industry. The underpayment of hospitality staff has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, following revelations about under-fire celebrity chef, George Calombaris, who underpaid his restaurant staff to the tune of $2.6 million over six years.
“There were about seven or eight of us working at Locanda Olivetti for Mark and Dean, with about three of us in the kitchen, three serving coffees and taking orders, and one in the bakery,” the student told True Crime News Weekly.
“Apart from two of the workers, the rest were all paid off the books and cash-in-hand. We did not receive any superannuation. Mark said he would pay my wages in the week the cafe was closed but since then he has simply switched off his mobile phone and there is no way I can contact him. Just that $400 would help me a lot to pay rent and groceries.”
FORMER AND RECENT EVO MEDIA EMPLOYEES CALL ON COMPANY TO “BURN IN HELL” AFTER BEING DRIVEN INTO POVERTY AND SEVERE MENTAL DISTRESS
As well as cafe staff coming out of the woodwork to relate their mistreatment, more former and recent Evo Media staff have contacted True Crime News Weekly to divulge new information suggesting Mr Anthony was failing to pay employee wages on time and appropriately going back as far as 2014. That was only 12 months after the alleged phoenix scam that transformed the failing Evolution Publishing into the ‘brand new’ Evo Media, despite the company having the same staff and Mr Anthony acting as its company director despite ASIC regulations banning him from doing so. Employees receiving their wages late or not at all was also a common theme during the previous incarnation of the company.
“I used to work for Evo Media back in 2014,” one former employee revealed this week.
“Failure of paying wages goes well beyond 2016. I was never paid on time! The very first pay you’d think they would get it to you on time? Nope. They told me that I provided the wrong bank details and stupid excuses like that.”
The former employee told True Crime News Weekly he personally knew many other staff who themselves were also owed large amounts of money.
“There are staff – ex-sales managers for instance – who are owed thousands and thousands of dollars worth of expenses. We often had our mobile phones suspended as the company was too tight to allow the use of landlines to do our job.”
Asked for his opinion on the scandal and the actions of Evo Media towards its employees, the source was blunt and to-the-point.
“All in all, I hope Evo Media burns in hell.”
And those sentiments aren’t just shared by employees who worked for Evo Media a number of years ago. Former sales account manager, Rob Tuitama, has only departed the company in the last week. Mr Tuitama – who began working for Evo Media in January 2016 – resigned after Mr Anthony refused to answer his emails or phone calls about months-worth of backpay and superannuation. He says he has been driven to the brink of poverty and financial and mental distress because of Mr Anthony’s “fraudulent” ways. Mr Tuitama estimates he is owed close to $8000-$9,000 in total.
“As a result I am suffering with rent, credit card, ongoing bills which Mark neither cares to respond or ever do the right thing,” Mr Tuitama told True Crime News Weekly.
“He’s clearly one of the biggest liars and frauds I have ever worked for. He cannot be trusted as he believes his own worthless lies.”
Mr Tuitama now refers to the company as “Evil Media”.
WATCH AS ONE FORMER EVO MEDIA EMPLOYEE ATTEMPTS TO TRACK DOWN MARK ANTHONY & THEN LEAVES A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR HIM
On Wednesday May 10, Mr Tuitama along with True Crime News Weekly went to 140 Wiliam St, Woolloomooloo as it was reported Mr Anthony was going to be there on the day to pick up “antique, handmade plates and jugs that belong to his mum” which he was said to be using at the now-closed cafe.
True to form though, Mr Anthony failed to turn up to pick up any of his items which were left neatly packed on the street, despite their apparent net worth. True Crime New Weekly inspected the items, and can confirm they were likely not “antique” or “handmade” pieces.
Mr Tuitama then successfully contacted Mr Anthony’s mother, whom the queer media magnate lives with and whose name his $2 million apartment in Potts Point is under through a front company. Mr Tuitama told Mr Anthony’s mother he would be visiting their home to collect the thousands of dollars owed to him. Mr Tuitama took one of the so-called ‘antique’ jugs which was left on the street and brought it to the steps of the Potts Point building which Mr Anthony resides in. The former sales staff member then left a special message for his former boss after neither Mr Anthony nor his mother answered the intercom.
Also present on the day was a process server working on behalf of ASIC who are attempting to track down Mr Anthony to place corporate charges upon the missing company director.
True Crime News Weekly has previously revealed that Mr Anthony’s neighbours in his exclusive art-deco building want him gone and have even placed debt collectors on him for unpaid strata fees that are now over $35,000. As also stated in earlier parts of our investigation, Mr Anthony sold a house in Vaucluse in early 2016 for $6 million, with many people left wondering why he cannot pay his employees, suppliers or even his own strata fees despite the multi-million dollar windfall.
ACON FINALLY CUTS OFF ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH EVO MEDIA BUT SOME PEOPLE SAY IT IS 10 YEARS TOO LATE
As more employees continue to be mistreated, LGBTIQ government agency ACON which has its tentacles across a large part of New South Wales’s queer community organisations has finally and evidently seen the light and now severed its relationship with Evo Media for good.
At one point, the organisation had a minimum $300,000 annual spend with the company. It is estimated ACON provided Evo Media with millions of dollars of taxpayers money to print out its ads in magazines, however much of the money was wasted with magazines barely ever being printed or distributed to the levels claimed by Evo Media, going back as far as 2008.
ACON – which receives at least $10 million worth of annual funding from NSW taxpayers – also positions itself as a form of quasi-government or bureacracy over the state’s queer community.
Additionally, several sources have told True Crime News Weekly that ACON’s recent actions are simply damage control in a bid to minimise its own continuing role in allowing Evo Media to operate. ACON, which has for a decade or more been Evo Media’s biggest advertiser, was one of several major LGBTIQ organisations and politicians such as Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich and Labor MLC Penny Sharpe who were all warned in writing in 2013 about the alleged corporate crimes occurring at the country’s largest queer publisher.
Both Mr Greenwich and Ms Sharpe have continually refused to publicly comment on the scandal despite claiming to hold values of protecting or advocating for employees’ rights and speaking up on behalf of the LGBTIQ community. One could reasonably expect at least Mr Greenwich in particular to provide support to the Evo Media employees now doing it tough considering the company’s headquarters in his Sydney electorate. Yet for some reason he has preferred to stay completely silent on the matter. True Crime News Weekly has previously reported that both Mr Greenwich and Ms Sharpe as well as other political parties continued to spend funds advertising with Evo Media, even after its alleged phoenix scam in 2013.
A source who has been involved in Australia’s LGBTIQ media space for a prolonged time said ACON’s timing of washing its hands of the scandal and the silence from politicians was a bit difficult to stomach.
“Strange that ACON only now recognise something they were told for 10 years,” the source informed True Crime News Weekly.
“There is an interesting discussion to be had around agencies believing in their own infallibility. And one of the interesting parts of Evo’s latest crash is that people really didn’t notice and, or, care.”
Further, there are claims that ACON continues to compromise itself after it decided to hire former Evo Media “managing editor”, Reg Domingo, in early March of this year despite being knowledgeable of Mr Domingo’s role at Evo Media, where he was a “senior manager” for eight years.
Dozens of employees have confirmed that Mr Domingo was more than well aware of the alleged circulation rorts and difficulties staff were having in being paid their wages or their superannuation going back years, and yet Mr Domingo never once reported the company during his ten-year employment to corporate authorities or seriously explained to staff the rights and protections they have in such situations.
True Crime News Weekly has asked ACON on numerous occasions what processes did it take to hire Mr Domingo for his high-profile, well-paid role as its new Head of Media and Marketing, but they have continually refused to provide a comment. A senior former sales staff member with both Evolution Publishing and Evo Media has however revealed that Mr Domingo was hired by ACON after both he and Mr Domingo personally met with ACON’s hierarchy in February to complain that they too were no longer being paid, along with other staff who had not been getting paid since September 2016.
NGO OR “GAY MAFIA”? THREATS OF MURDER AGAINST TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY MADE BY PEOPLE HIGHLY CONNECTED TO ACON AND IMPLICATING CEO NICOLAS PARKHILL
In a bid to understand why ACON was so willing to throw public funds at Evo Media for so long, True Crime News Weekly attempted to contact the person who held Mr Domingo’s role at ACON previously for much of the past decade and was responsible for ACON’s advertising campaigns with Evo Media.
Michael Badorrek, who is now employed in Thailand with an international HIV / AIDS health body known as APCOM, was a “senior manager” with ACON for 10 years and its Head of Media and Marketing for much of that time. Mr Badorrek along with current ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill was also personally warned in writing in 2013 about the issues plaguing Evo Media when it was known as Evolution Publishing. Both however decided that there was nothing wrong in continuing to plough hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money into the media company following its alleged phoenix scam in March 2013. Mr Badorrek only left his position at ACON two months ago and was replaced very quickly by Mr Domingo.
Mr Badorrek was offered an opportunity by True Crime News Weekly to explain his actions at ACON and his relationship with Mr Domingo. But instead of providing a comment he thought it more appropriate to send a threat of murder, in a racist message he believed he was sending to his friend and former boss, Mr Parkhill, but was actually mistakenly sent to True Crime News Weekly.
“Thx Nic…I’ve settled down a bit now…that was the first thing I woke up to this morning…not a great way to start the day…happy to see how it plays out…and happy to organise a hit from Asia.. they’re really cheap here…and you get rice with it M xo,” Mr Badorrek wrote from his work email address at APCOM.
Interestingly, ACON has major influence at APCOM, despite being based in Bangkok, with Mr Parkhill sitting on its board, while ACON’s president, Justin Koonin hosted a reception for APCOM in Sydney this March.
After being messaged by True Crime News Weekly that the death threat had been mistakenly sent to its intended victim, both Mr Parkhill and Mr Badorrek sent grovelling, see-through, so-called apologies.
“I apologise for the content of this email that was mistakely [sic] sent to you,” Mr Badorrek wrote in a later email message to True Crime News Weekly.
“It was clearly in poor taste and I regret any offensive [sic] that it may have caused…please note that I have just started a new job in Bangkok and I no longer work for ACON…please refrain from any further contact with me in relation to this issue…”
Mr Parkhill meanwhile claimed he was “appalled” by Mr Badorrek’s suggestion to help organise a hitman on his behalf to commit a murder on an investigative journalist.
“Mr Badorrek’s offensive comments in his misdirected email to you in no way reflect my views, or those of ACON,” he wrote in an email message.
“Mr Badorrek is not working at ACON and was not speaking on behalf of the organisation.
“I am appalled by his email and in no way do I condone the sentiment expressed in it.”
Meanwhile, Mr Badorrek’s new employers at APCOM have attempted to cast the former ABC journalist’s threats of murder as made only in “poor taste”.
“Michael has apologised to us for this as well as for the poor taste of the content of the email. We also understand Michael has offered apologies to you and to his former employer in Australia in relation to this issue,” APCOM executive director, Midnight Poonkasetwattana, wrote in an email to True Crime News Weekly.
“APCOM does not approve of any language that causes offense to others and Michael is aware of the policy of the organisation. We continue to monitor the situation and will act accordingly.”
For his part, Mr Parkhill would not comment on what action he would be taking against Mr Badorrek considering his role as a board member of APCOM. Mr Parkhill could not explain why his close friend and former ACON senior employee thought it appropriate to plan a murder hit on a journalist using his work email and thought it wise to send such a message to the CEO of a major NGO.
ACON has also stayed silent on whether Mr Domingo is still employed with the government-funded body despite former colleagues at both Evo Media and Evolution Publishing referring to him as a “serial liar” and “spineless” for his behaviour at the media company over many years. A poll that has been running for over a month on True Crime News Weekly has more than 70% of respondents calling for authorities to investigate the actions of ACON as well as their chums at Evo Media.
True Crime News Weekly has reported the death threat to several authorities including NSW Police and the NSW Health Department under whose umbrella ACON falls under.
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.