The future of the nation’s premier LGBTI awards is in doubt after the company that operates the event was placed into liquidation amid a financial dispute between its owners.
- The Australian LGBTI Awards have been held since 2017
- The company behind the awards has gone into liquidation
- It owes about $175,000 to creditors, including one of the directors
The first Australian LGBTI Awards were held in 2017 to acknowledge high-achieving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people based on popular vote.
The most recent awards were held in Sydney in March.
Previous winners have included Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, doctor Kerryn Phelps and actor Magda Szubanski and companies Airbnb, Australia Post and QBE Insurance.
The company behind the awards, Twin Media Group, was headed by Sydney-based Silke Bader and UK-based Linda Riley, who founded the original LGBTI Awards in the UK.
Ms Bader and Ms Riley are the only two directors of the company.
In June, the Federal Court appointed liquidator Jamieson Louttit to wind-up Twin Media Group.
In a preliminary report, the liquidator said the company had failed because of “poor strategic management” and “infighting between the two directors in charge of the company”.
The next Australian LGBTI Awards were scheduled to be held on February, 28, 2020.
Twin Media Group still promotes itself as the organiser on its website.
Ms Bader told the ABC she would like to continue running the event, but the future of the LGBTI Awards in its current form was uncertain.
“I’m handcuffed — I would like to, but at this stage I can’t announce anything,” she said.
In March, Ms Bader registered several business names with similar titles to the awards, under a separate company called Iris Media and Events.
Lucy Lawless, Peter De Waal, Magda Szubanski, Jackie Loeb and Patrick Abboud at the 2018 LGBTI Awards. (Facebook)
Directors’ dispute began years ago
Court documents revealed the full extent of the breakdown between directors, which began in 2016 before the first event, according to Ms Riley’s affidavit.
A liquidator’s report showed Twin Media Group owed $174,695, including about $65,000 to Ms Bader and her company L Media.
The total value of Twin Media Group and its assets is estimated by the liquidator to be $196,581.
Ms Riley has since launched an appeal against the wind-up order, which she claimed was “obtained by deceit” and without her “knowledge and consent”.
Ms Riley’s affidavit describes “increasingly contradictory financial reports” provided by Ms Bader and accuses her of refusing to show her bank documents.
The affidavit alleges Ms Bader paid large sums from the Twin Media Group account to her own companies.
Ms Riley said she and Twin Media Group were collectively owed more than $130,000.
She told the ABC she had no intention of continuing her involvement with the Australian event.
Ms Bader denied the claims made by her former business partner.