All eyes on Energy Watch Mark II

Investors pump millions of dollars into new business, leaving legal problems with the old one.

Investors pump millions of dollars into new business, leaving legal problems with the old one.

REGULATORS have raised questions about the reborn Energy Watch after an investor emerged with the bulk of the assets, leaving the old broking business in the hands of administrators.

Private investors have pumped millions of dollars into a new business called Energy Watch International, leaving existing financial and legal problems in the shell of the old company.

This puts at risk attempts to recoup superannuation and redundancy payments for former staff, although the new owners say staff are more likely to receive money than if Energy Watch had been left to fail.

And the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which recently won a case against Energy Watch and former chief executive Ben Polis for false and misleading advertising, now needs the court's permission to pursue penalties.

The barrister for the ACCC, Daniel Star, yesterday said the watchdog did not yet know if the new company was ''100 per cent bona fide'' or a tactic to avoid penalties.

Energy Watch had been stumbling towards liquidation after offensive comments by Mr Polis were made public in early April. IT entrepeneur Danny Wallis emerged last week as the head of a private consortium taking over the company under a new name.

''It would have gone into liquidation had we not pumped money into it in the two-week period,'' he said.

''We have put millions of dollars into this whole structure. A large percentage of that money is going to the administrators to pay out staff claims ? At this point in time I cannot guarantee that [staff] will get all their entitlements.''

Administrators Lawler Draper Dillon did not return calls. A creditors' meeting is due to be held on Tuesday.

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