A “special director” of the Antulye estate group of native title owners in Alice Springs, Ron Morony (pictured left), says yesterday’s Centralian Advocate newspaper report about the Mt Johns Valley residential development omits a crucial detail about the defunct CDE Civil group.
He says the newspaper neglects to point out that its main source, Darryl Pearce (pictured right), identified in the report as “native title holder Lhere Artepe’s CEO”, is also the sole director of the company now in liquidation, defaulting on significant debts to local contractors.
Alice Springs News Online reported Mr Pearce’s position within CDE Civil earlier this month.
This is confirmed by an ASIC extract, dated September 19, when the company had gone into liquidation.
Mr Morony is a financial consultant based in Canberra. As the CEO of Indigenous Business Australia between 1993 and 2010 he raised the asset base of the organisation from $40m to $1b.
He is in Alice Springs for meetings with Lhere Artepe interests who say they are keen to restore the influence of native title holders on their organisation.
Mr Morony says he is concerned about the impact of the management failure of CDE Civic.
“I am constantly being asked by my relatives and local native title members about what is happening in their name and they ask when will accountability and common courtesy be extended to them.
“I fully understand corporate law. [Mr Pearce] being the sole director of CDE Civil, and director of another board doing the land developments, and then CEO of Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd, raises a number of serious questions around how all of this is benefitting our people,” says Mr Morony.
“And secondly, there are perceptions of potential conflicts of interest around these roles.
“My challenge to Mr Pearce and those who follow him is to sit down with those of us who have legitimate interests and tell us what the full story is so that we can decide for ourselves what is going on, and more importantly, what are the implications for Arrernte people.
“I have talked to some of the former partners of CDE Civil who are a highly respected Aboriginal family, and I get a very different version of the governance of the corporation.
“I am still trying to find out if the equity in CDE Civil has been paid for and with what funds. These are important and legitimate questions which warrant full answers,” says Mr Morony.
“We simply want to know how under Mr Pearce’s leadership a company can fail so quickly after acquiring a substantial shareholding, and what are the implications for our people.”
Darryl Pearce and the Centralian Advocate were invited to comment on the draft of this story. No response has been received at this time. If responses come to hand they will be published.