For more than a decade they provided emergency response services to some of Queensland’s biggest companies but now the firm has gone bust
For more than a decade they provided emergency response services to some of Queensland’s biggest companies but now the firm has gone bust

Emergency rescue company couldn’t save itself in the end

TO THE RESCUE

For more than a decade they provided emergency response services to some of Queensland's biggest companies.

Brisbane-based ER24 Pty Ltd dispensed medical, security and rescue teams for the likes of Glencore, Thiess, Wesfarmers, BMA and Peabody Energy.

But it's all gone pear-shaped now for co-founder Matt Willis (illustrated) and three other directors of the firm.

They tipped the company into liquidation this week, tapping Nik Khatri from insolvency mob Worrells to clean up the mess.

Matt Willis, co-founder of ER24
Matt Willis, co-founder of ER24

Khatri said Thursday that it's still too early to say why the business collapsed or how much money is owed to unsecured creditors.

Willis told us he and his three South African-born co-directors had brought the concept to Australia, where it was launched in 2008.

But when City Beat tried asking a few follow up questions, he declined to comment further and hung up on your diarist.

Fellow director and majority owner Chris Wicht didn't return a call seeking comment. He works as the chief financial officer at the Medicross Medical group of GP clinics on the Gold Coast.

These gents were instrumental in launching ER24 in Johannesburg about 20 years ago. From a modest start, it has grown to have 59 branches across South Africa, with 300 emergency vehicles and more than 700 staff supporting both public and private hospitals.

When they opened the doors for business in Queensland, the initial focus was just on the mining industry.

But it soon evolved into a "one-stop shop'' for the oil, gas and construction sectors too.

The company dispatched paramedics, nurses, emergency response teams, security and consultants to deal with a whole raft of crises.

To service remote areas they teamed up with the likes of CareFlight and Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Services, as well as Wicht's employer, Medicross.

KEEPING COOL

He touted it as "a revolution in food refrigeration and transportation''.

Queensland entrepreneur Ben Rogers developed a replacement for dry ice in early 2017 which he claimed was an eco-friendly way to cool foods faster and longer than with dry ice.

Rogers subsequently won a key environmental award for the breakthrough concept and his business outside Rockhampton snared a deal with Gate Gourmet, a leading Sydney-based supplier of food to airlines and airport lounges.

Ben Rogers, founder of Ecoslice
Ben Rogers, founder of Ecoslice

But a dispute with investors over intellectual property in his Ecoslice group has proved disastrous.

Two subsidiaries of Ecoslice Holdings Pty Ltd collapsed this week, with liquidator Michael Beck estimating the combined debts at about $3.1m.

Beck told us that he now plans to sell the IP, which might provide for a return to some of the creditors.

Rogers could not be reached for comment.

But corporate records show that he still controls several intact entities, including B&Z Refrigeration Solutions, which he only launched in July.

BEHIND BARS

The aptly-named Anthony Vivian Dick quietly ripped off $1.1m from his clients over an 11 year period and splashed out the loot on a car, boat and school fees.

The former Townsville financial planner forged signatures, hid bank transfers and took other calculated steps to swindle the money out of super, pension and savings accounts.

Dick, a 55-year-old native of Malaysia who plead guilty to 11 counts of fraud, will now pay for his crimes.

He's just been sentenced to eight years in the iron motel, with no parole before two years and eight months.

Dick defrauded 13 of his clients between 2006 and 2017, siphoning amounts of between $5000 and $30,000 from customers of his now-defunct Advantage Financial Services.

Records reveal he first held a financial services licence in 2004 and launched the Advantage business in late 2013.

Amazingly, the judge who sentenced him is named Julie Dick, although she's no relation. What are the odds?

 

Originally published as Emergency rescue company couldn't save itself in the end


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