By James Wells
SYDNEY: Strathfield Group director, George Cheihk, has been dumped from the board of the retail group after declaring bankruptcy over a debt to a mobile phone supplier.
According to a report published in The Australian newspaper today, Cheihk’s bankruptcy follows a reported failure to pay a $300,000 debt to mobile phone distributor Roadhound six years ago.
According to the report, Cheihk “gave a guarantee to Roundhound in May 2000 in support a credit facility for his company, Mobile Tron Pty Ltd, trading as No Bull Phones”.
Mobile Tron went into receivership in 2000 and debt recovery actions were initiated by Roadhound against the guarantors, Cheihk and his partner Robert Saab who was declared bankrupt on 11 November 2003.
After losing track of Cheihk, Roadhound reinstated legal proceedings against him when he was named s a director of Strathfield Group in June 2005.
Cheihk has been replaced by John Fries who has joined as the board as a non-executive director immediately.
Fries has more than 45 years experience in finance, accountancy and administration. He is honorary treasurer and deputy chairman of Australian Red Cross NSW and chairman of Fox Invest as well as serving as a director on another not-for-profit organisation and other private companies in which he has an interest. He was also deputy chairman of Tribeca Learning Limited when it was a publicly listed company.
Fries was formerly Finance Director of Vodafone Group in Australia and prior to that Finance Director of McIlwraith McEacharn Limited, Oakbridge Limited and Great Northern Mining Limited – all publicly listed companies.
According to the statement, for 12 years from the early 1970s, Fries was a management consultant in both London (coopers and Lybrand) and Sydney. He has an honours degree in Commerce from UNSW, is a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountatns, a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and recently a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
This is not the first major embarrassment for the Strathfield board.
In mid-September last year, the then Strathfield chairman, Marcus Einfeld, stepped down from the position due to issues that the company referred to as “non company matters”.
At the time of the resignation from the Strathfield board, Einfeld was investigated after he claimed that a deceased woman had borrowed his car when it was speeding in January 2006.
Detectives from the State Crime Command seized a computer and an electric cord after executing a search warrant on Einfeld’s home in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Woollahra.
Two earlier incidents involving Einfeld avoiding traffic fines were also investigated after claims that the driver was overseas when the speeding occurred.
Einfeld was appointed chairman of Strathfield in November 2005.