The Mediaweb debacle: liquidation, false invoices and possible lawsuits

An email leaked to StopPress late Friday afternoon revealed that McDonald Vague, the receivers assigned to Mediaweb last month, found several anomalies when analysing the financial records of the struggling company.  

The message, written by McDonald Vague director Jared Booth, was initially intended only to be read by those involved in the tender process, and comes shortly after Mediaweb went into liquidation on 21 March.

Subdivided into three areas of concern, Booth’s email gives a breakdown of McDonald Vague’s observations regarding the accuracy of Mediaweb’s financial information, the purported ownership of Management Magazine and entry of Intermedia Group into the New Zealand market.         

Financial information

In the first section of the email, Booth confirms that Mediaweb has not supplied all of its invoices for advertising services, products or value supplied to customers.

On the basis of this omission and other financial discrepancies, Booth says that the receivers are of the opinion that the information provided by Mediaweb was reliant on misleading information, including the use of false or misleading invoices.

Booth then concedes that the receivers are at this stage unsure of the full extent of the corporate dishonesty, but he deems it significant enough to bring to the attention of all prospective buyers.     

According to the receivers, Mediaweb’s distribution of false financial information also predates the receivership, with the company also sending out false financial accounts for the year ended 31 March 2012.

Booth’s email then adds that the receivers have initiated plans to accumulate accurate data, and that this information would be made available to prospective buyers by today. He does however include the disclaimer that there will not be sufficient time to audit the new data and that the accuracy thereof will not be guaranteed.      

And given that the tender process is set to end at noon this Thursday, it is unlikely that any consolidated data will be made available to interested parties.    

New Zealand Management Magazine

In what could be seen as an effort to hold onto the ownership of New Zealand Management Magazine, the directors of Mediaweb have claimed that the magazine actually falls under another company called Unu. However, this assertion has not satisfied the receivers, who noted that prior issues of the magazine clearly listed Mediaweb as the owner and that UNU and Mediaweb have common directors.

StopPress contacted Mediaweb director John Clark to discuss these matters, but he is yet to return our calls.      

Intermedia Group

The final area of concern for the receivers involves last month’s announcement that the Intermedia Group would be launching two business-to-business titles—Hospitality Business and FMCG Business—in New Zealand.

Booth’s email claims that this move constitutes a breach of Mediaweb’s intellectual property rights, and that the Intermedia Group has been contacted in regard to the possibility of ensuing legal action.

We contacted Intermedia Group’s New Zealand managing director Dale Spencer, but he was a firm no comment at this stage.

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