Unified Security has axed two-thirds of its staff and its main shareholder, David Millward, is gone. It’s also preparing to sue Victoria for $11m.
Unified Security has axed two-thirds of its staff and its main shareholder, David Millward, is gone. It’s also preparing to sue Victoria for $11m.

Unified Security stands down 530 quarantine guards

Controversial Sydney company Unified Security is preparing to sue the Victorian government over $11 million of unpaid invoices for work on the disastrous Melbourne hotel quarantine scheme.

It has also stood down 530 guards working in NSW's hotel quarantine program after the state government told the controversial company its services were no longer required.

And ownership of the firm has been transferred to the sister of former majority shareholder David Millward.

These moves were revealed at a NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) hearing this week which was the first step in Unified's bid to overturn a decision by a specialist NSW Police unit to strip its master security licence.

Former Unified Security shareholder David Millward. Picture: The Daily Telegraph
Former Unified Security shareholder David Millward. Picture: The Daily Telegraph

NCAT heard Unified's revenue surged from $16m in 2018-19 to $68m last financial year after it began providing quarantine security for the NSW and Victorian governments in April 2020.

The company's earnings soared to more than $10m in 2019-20 - plus a further $6.6m for the first nine months of 2020-21.

But last month the NSW Police Security Licensing and Enforcement Directorate (SLED) said it would revoke Unified's licence due to "undeclared changes in ownership".

Before that decision could take effect, Unified had it frozen by NCAT, which is now beginning a review.

Unified's CEO Matthew Conway on Monday told NCAT the company would not survive more than three weeks if it lost its licence.

 

 

But Dr Christos Mantziaris, representing the Commissioner of Police, said Unified could trade on and alleged that funds were "siphoned off" by the people who had owned it.

The tribunal earlier heard claims that Unified had provided loans of between $5m and $15m to its parent company, USG Holdings, and paid a dividend of $5m.

USG Holdings was until recently 51 per cent owned by Mr Millward - who trained rugby league bad boy John Hopoate to the Australian heavyweight boxing title - and 49 per cent owned by his long-time business partner Luigi Trunzo.

Their stakes were held via Millward Investments and Trunzo Investments respectively.

Luigi Trunzo in 2000, promoting a car built to withstand machine gun fire. Picture: The Daily Telegraph
Luigi Trunzo in 2000, promoting a car built to withstand machine gun fire. Picture: The Daily Telegraph

However, NCAT was told Millward Investments had moved to 100 per cent ownership of USG Holdings and that Mr Millward was no longer its sole shareholder; instead, his sister, Sandy Millward Pratt was. She works in "executive support" at Unified, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Unified’s Sandy Pratt. Picture: Facebook
Unified’s Sandy Pratt. Picture: Facebook

Unified's barrister Mark Robinson SC said because Mr Millward and Mr Trunzo were now not "close associates" of the company, "a large part of the decision under review had fallen away."

He also said there was no suggestion Unified was bad at providing security and that there was no known mechanism for reclaiming dividends.

Mr Conway said the NSW Government's Public Works Advisory (PWA) agency emailed him on April 20 to say Unified was "not required to deliver services" to the hotel quarantine program anymore.

Mr Conway said he sent stand down notices to 530 staff the next day. Unified provides about 30 per cent of all the guards in the program.

Mr Robinson asked Mr Conway if Unified was contemplating suing the Victorian Government over $11m of unpaid invoices for quarantine work.

"We are more than contemplating," Mr Conway said. "We are prepared and ready to file."

PWA did not respond to The Daily Telegraph's questions about how the gap in the NSW hotel quarantine program was being filled.

The Victorian Government did not respond either.

NCAT reserved its decision on Unified's application for a stay; an interim freeze on the licence revocation was ordered.

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Unified Security stands down 530 quarantine guards



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