Fuji Xerox Australia takes former boss Neil Whittaker to court

Fuji Xerox Australia has confirmed it is taking its former managing director Neil Whittaker and former chief financial officer Devlin Bell to court three years after $450 million in accounting irregularities in both Australia and New Zealand were identified.

Whittaker was in charge of the New Zealand division of Fuji Xerox for 12 years prior to his 13-month stint as the Australian division head which ended abruptly in May 2016 after an unannounced regional accounting audit was conducted.

Bell also left Fuji Xerox Australia around this time.

The legal action by Fuji Xerox Australia has also been launched against accounting firm Ernst and Young and Ernst and Young partner E A Lang.

A case management hearing is due to be held n May 26, Federal Court of Australia documents show.

This new action in Australia comes two and a half years after Fuji Xerox New Zealand launched a civil case in New Zealand’s High Court against three of its former executives including Whittaker, who was a former managing director of Fuji Xerox New Zealand.

Fuji Xerox Australia has confirmed the action has been launched to Sprinter but declined to give any further details at this time.

“As this is a matter before the Court and as a result, Fuji Xerox Australia will not be making any comment,” Fuji Xerox Australia told Sprinter in a statement.

After Whittaker’s sudden departure from Fuji Xerox Australia claims emerged from within the company of a ‘sales at any cost’ culture and massive accounting irregularities that were alleged to have taken place under Whittaker and Bell’s watch.

It was also claimed that sales people brought across with Whittaker from New Zealand were on largely inflated commissions compared to other sales staff and that revenues were widely misstated.

The management issues prompted an inquiry from Fuji Xerox’s parent company Fujifilm in 2017 which identified the $450 million in losses.

At the time Fuji Xerox president and its Asia Pacific president personally apologised to Fuji Xerox Australia’s 400 Australian staff for the actions of Whittaker and Bell and the subsequent damage to the company’s morale and reputation locally.

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