Sigalla faces jail sentence over dishonest use of TZ funds

Bankrupt businessman Andrew Sigalla could face jail after being charged with dishonestly using more than $6 million belonging to the company he ran to pay gambling debts to bookmaker Tom Waterhouse.

Bankrupt businessman Andrew Sigalla could face jail after being charged with dishonestly using more than $6 million belonging to the company he ran to pay gambling debts to bookmaker Tom Waterhouse.

Mr Sigalla appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court on Thursday on 16 charges of breaching his duties as a director of TZ Limited, which is now run by Celebrity Apprentice star Mark Bouris.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges Mr Sigalla dipped into the company's bank accounts 16 times between March 2008 and March 2009, using most of the money to pay Mr Waterhouse and the remainder to pay off a mortgage.

The charges laid on Thursday are the latest fallout of Mr Sigalla's tenure at TZ.

Last year, the NSW Supreme Court convicted Mr Sigalla of contempt after he breached a court order by failing to disclose to ASIC almost $30,000 in credit card payments to escort agencies.

At the time he denied personally using the services of the escort agencies, telling the court they were used by a guest who paid him back in cash.

Mr Sigalla was made bankrupt in July 2010 on the application of Mr Waterhouse, whom he owed $2.6 million, under a Victorian Supreme Court order.

Mr Bouris took control of TZ, which makes electronic lockers, in mid 2009 and has since been working to turn around the struggling company.

Under Mr Bouris, TZ launched a $7.5 million claim against Mr Sigalla that was later settled out of court.

ASIC investigators picked Mr Sigalla up from the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney on Thursday morning and took him to court.

The regulator alleges that besides making the dishonest payments, Mr Sigalla failed to record them properly in TZ's financial accounts, failed to obtain shareholder approval for them and failed to disclose the benefit to him in the company's published accounts.

Each offence carries a maximum penalty of five years' jail and a fine of up to $220,000.

Watched by ASIC investigator Ken Goodchild, Mr Sigalla did not enter a plea and was granted bail. He must surrender his passport to ASIC, not approach an international terminal of departure, not leave Australia, and advise ASIC of any change to his current address.