Former Kleenmaid director sentenced for $13m fraud

By Nick Hall | 10 Feb 2020 View comments

 

Disgraced businessman and former Kleenmaid director, Andrew Eric Young has been sentenced to nine years’ in prison for his role in the fraudulent company’s actions.

In front of a packed crowd of onlookers at the Brisbane District Court on Friday, Young became the third former Kleenmaid director to be imprisoned, following the company’s downfall in 2009.

However, it’s been a long road to get here. In January, Young was found guilty of fraud and insolvent trading, following a mammoth 59-day trial.

A jury found the former Kleenmaid director had defrauded the Westpac bank of $13m and accumulated debts of more than $750,000 by trading while the white goods importer was insolvent. Young was denied bail and remanded in custody to await sentencing.

Further, the former Kleenmaid director was also convicted of moving $330,000 from one of the company’s bank accounts into an account he had access to after it went into liquidation.

Kleenmaid under fire

Young’s conviction came years after fellow Kleenmaid directors Gary Collyer Armstrong and Bradley Wendell Young, Andrew’s brother, were found guilty of the same charges. Armstrong was sentenced in 2015 to five and a half years’ jail, with Bradley Young sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment in 2016.

The sentencing sent shockwaves through the business community, with ASIC commissioner John Price suggesting the hefty penalties were a sign of things to come.

“The action ASIC has taken against the former directors of Kleenmaid should send a clear message that where a director fails in their duty to prevent a company from incurring debts while it is insolvent, ASIC will take action, particularly where the director’s conduct has been dishonest and to the detriment of creditors and consumers,” Price said in a statement.

Young had previously sought to escape jail-time, as recently as Friday morning, when he claimed he did not have the same level of culpability as other directors, suggesting rehabilitation for his offences would not happen in prison.

“After spending the last four weeks at Arthur Gorrie (prison), I would submit there are bigger fish to fry,” Young told the Brisbane District Court on Friday.

However, Judge Brian Devereaux disagreed, handing Young a hefty jail sentence, on par with his brother’s.

Kleenmaid director sentenced

Judge Devereaux said the evidence showed Young was still in control of the company’s accounts, suggesting he had not ceased the “egregious and flagrantly dishonest” behaviour he displayed while serving as company director.

“It was inescapable the jury found that you were a director,” Judge Devereaux said during sentencing.

Young will be eligible for parole after four years, before then starting another three-year sentence for insolvent trading. He will be eligible to be released in January 2025.

Young founded Kleenmaid in 1980, opening more than 20 stores and employing over 200 staff before its collapse in 2009. At the time, Kleenmaid had debts of around $96m, leaving 6000 customers $26m out-of-pocket after failing to supply purchased goods.

The brand name was revived by Compass Capital Partners in 2009, however, the existing Kleenmaid business is not related to the latest sentencing and conviction.

Source: AAP/Michael Doyle