Satellite Group secretary and financial controller Mary-Lou Taylor was familiar with the work of fashion designer Alex Perry before Mercedes Fashion Week in 2000.
But the first she knew of Satellite boss Greg Fisher’s involvement with Perry’s Fashion Week show was when Fisher asked her to co-sign a cheque made out to the designer in May 2000, Taylor said in court this week.
Fisher has been charged with dishonestly using approximately $220,000 in Satellite company money without knowledge or consent of the Satellite board, which was paid to Alex Perry in April, May and June of 2000.
The charges arise from an Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigation into the collapse of Satellite -“ a property and media company which floated on the Australian Stock Exchange on 23 September 1999 and went into administration in November 2000.
At the time of its float, Satellite was billed as the world’s first pink company and owned a stable of gay and lesbian newspapers and magazines. These included the Melbourne-based OutRage Magazine and Sydney Star Observer rival Capital Q.
Mary-Lou Taylor said she next heard of Fisher’s involvement with Alex Perry’s 2000 Fashion Week campaign when reading a gossip column on 7 May 2000.
Taylor told the court Fisher said he was in the process of securing a $150,000 bank guarantee through the National Australia Bank, which handled all of Satellite’s and its subsidiaries’ bank accounts.
Taylor eventually co-signed three of the six Satellite cheques paid to Alex Perry. When asked by Fisher’s barrister Charles Waterstreet if she believed at the time she was doing anything wrong, she said she didn’t think about it.
I didn’t think about anything -¦ I didn’t think about legal terms at all. I was just working, she said.
Taylor said she regularly spoke with Satellite’s banker at the National Australia Bank Harry Hills, who confirmed Fisher had applied for a $150,000 bank guarantee to cover an overdraft in Perry’s name.
Hills told the court last week he approved the application for an overdraft but made a requirement that Fisher provide financial records from his personal company, Mojava. The court heard the records were never produced, and the bank guarantee did not go ahead.
In response to questions from Fisher’s counsel, Taylor confirmed the payments to Alex Perry had been recorded in some way in Satellite’s financial spreadsheets.
Former Satellite director David Chapman told the court there had been no discussion of Fisher’s payments to Alex Perry at any Satellite board or Audit Committee meeting that he had attended.
Other Satellite board members, including former chairman Dr Keryn Phelps are expected to give evidence in the trial.
The trial continues.