Tough penalties for Directors involved in phoenix transactions

The Federal Government has introduced into Parliament tough new criminal and civil penalties for Company Directors who engage in illegal phoenix activity. 

Illegal phoenix activity is when a new company is created to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying its debts, including taxes, creditors and employee entitlements.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Combating Illegal Phoenixing) Bill 2019 will give the ATO, ASIC and liquidators a range of new powers to target directors, individuals and advisors who conduct illegal phoenix transactions, such as where a Director sells the assets of the company at less than market value (known as a creditor-defeating disposition). 

The other key reforms include:

  • New powers to ASIC to recover property that is the subject of a creditor-defeating disposition and return it to the company for distribution to the creditors; 

  • Preventing directors from resigning and leaving the company with no directors and from backdating their resignation to avoid personal liability;

  • Extending the existing director liability provisions by making directors personally liable for their company’s GST liabilities;

  • Increased power of the ATO to withhold tax refunds where tax lodgments are still outstanding.

Company directors and their advisers should be aware of the proposed changes.

Cove Legal provide specialist advice to clients facing possible insolvency outcomes or facing actual or threatened ATO debt action. If you are attempting to address director personal liability issues, director penalty notices, garnishee orders, winding up applications, statutory demands or need advice on an insolvency situation generally, speak to us today.

Roger Blow, Principal, Ph: +61 8 6381 0327 or

This publication is not intended to provide and does not provide legal advice. You should seek professional legal advice relating to your specific situation(s) before taking any action based upon its contents.