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Private interests of Australia's politicians

US authorities investigate Australian company over alleged wage theft

Scale Facilitation, the scandal plagued company promoted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, is alleged to have breached New York State wage theft laws.

Sean Johnson17 August 2023

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles pumping the tyres of Scale Facilitation and CEO David Collard last December at the opening of the company's New York HQ

Scale Facilitation CEO David Collard must be wishing bad things only came in threes.

First came the AFP raid on the company’s Geelong offices in June over an alleged $150 million tax fraud.

Then in early August Scale subsidiary Recharge Industries defaulted on its purchase agreement to buy UK battery start up Britishvolt after failing to make the final payment.

And last week news emerged that Scale Facilitation and Collard faced lawsuits for not paying the rent on his luxury Manhattan apartment and the lease on the company's offices in the One World Trade Center.

Peter Dutton trying his best to smile at Scale's HQ opening. He was flown there at company expense.

Amidst these legal and financial problems there’ve been regular reports of unpaid wages in Australia and the United States and mass resignations from frustrated staff who’ve grown tired of the empty promises from Collard that their cheques were in the mail.

But there's been no action so far by workplace authorities in either country. Until now.

Open Politics can reveal the New York State Department of Labor has commenced an investigation into Scale Facilitation after an employee in their Manhattan head office lodged a complaint in late July over unpaid wages and the refusal of the company to provide wage statements.

The employee told us they are owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and vacation pay.

The complaint indicates that before Scale stopped paying wages in early June staff were being paid via PayPal or direct bank deposit and were not provided with pay stubs as required by New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act.

The employee provided screenshots of the unorthodox payment methods along with a message from HR with the implausible excuse that Scale’s lawyers needed to review pay stubs before they were sent out.

PayPal transfer from the personal account of a former Scale executive

Message from HR

All of this raised red flags for the complainant and their colleagues about whether Scale was deducting tax and unemployment insurance payments from their wages.

It’s a legitimate question. More so given the company is being investigated by the Australian Tax Office’s Serious Financial Crime Taskforce.

Class action afoot

We understand around a dozen New York staff have engaged an employment law firm to prepare a class action against Scale for unpaid wages. Let’s see if other staff join the action once it’s launched.

It's also a fair bet the New York State Department of Labor will be investigating more complaints about Scale in the near future.

Meanwhile in Australia our field agents tell us almost no staff in Geelong are being paid, with at least one on the verge of losing their family home because they can no longer pay their mortgage.

So much for Scale Facilitation’s claim that the company has "a vision for humankind" and is "the way business should be."

The only vision the company appears to have is renting expensive real estate, throwing fancy parties, and engaging in rent seeking by building political relationships. Hardly the way business should be.

MP has a record of domestic violence. But we can’t name him.

David Collard’s previous arrest by NYPD in 2013

Deputy PM’s former confidant charged with assault and harassment

Scale Facilitation's inflated invoice to UK subsidiary raises questions about VAT refund

Scale Facilitation established a company in tax haven of Malta