A Northern Territory Aboriginal media corporation is suing two former senior managers for allegedly using their corporate credit cards for more than $300,000 of personal expenses.
Former Warlpiri Media Association general manager Michael Taylor and his second in command Wendy Phillips were fired in 2017 following a meeting with the company board in October 2017.
Warlpiri Media trades under the name Pintupi Anmatjere Warlpiri (PAW) Media and Communications and has operated out of the central Australian town of Yuendumu for 30 years. The not-for-profit organisation makes TV, radio and music content working with local people in language.
In documents filed with the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, the corporation claims the pair spent the vast sum of money on luxury goods, overseas travel and gambling, as well as personal expenses.
According to the NT News, their filed defence asserts that any money they spent was authorised by Warlpiri Media for the company’s benefit. The document claims Taylor was not required to seek approval for purchases, and that Phillips received approval from Taylor as her superior.
The defence claims that purchases, which reportedly includes hundreds of dollars spent on fireworks, videogames, fine dining, technology and personal grooming, were made “during the course of carrying out their duties and functions”.
The purchases that Warlpiri Media claim were illegitimate include thousands of dollars in airfares, accommodation and eating out for trips overseas to London and California.
Taylor is also alleged to have spent nearly $400 on the company credit card for a seafood dinner in San Francisco, while the company claims Phillips purchased more than $1,000 in furniture without approval.
Phillips and Taylor claim they were fired without proof of wrongdoing, and said they had “no meaningful opportunity to respond to the allegations”.
It’s understood the organisation is seeking $345,419 total in damages from the pair.
By Sarah Smit