One of Australia’s oldest and most successful solar companies has been placed into administration as part of the unfolding legal and financial drama centred around Sydney businessman Bill Papas and his Forum Group of Companies.
Autonomous Energy, which was founded in 2003 and has delivered some of Australia’s largest commercial solar and battery projects to date, has become one of 24 Forum Group companies placed under administration by Mackay Goodwin ahead of a Tuesday creditor’s meeting.
The solar, storage and microgrid specialist was bought by Papas’ sustainable tech outfit, Iugis, in March of this year – an acquisition Papas described at the time as ideal to expand his company’s foray into energy efficiency.
But over the ensuing months, Papas – who is currently in Greece and claims to have tested positive to Coronavirus – would become increasingly embroiled in allegations of a $400 million fraud brought by Westpac and two other banks.
On Thursday this week, the Federal Court ordered that Forum Financial Services, which according to a report in The Australian on Thursday appears to have functioned as a company treasury, be placed into liquidation.
Autonomous Energy founder and former managing director, Mark Gadd, wrote on LinkedIn late on Thursday that it was “the end of an era” for the award-winning company.
“AE has survived a lot – the GFC, the never ending solar-coaster and even Tony Abbot (sic). But not its brand-new owner Bill Papas and the integration with Iugis,” Gadd wrote.
“I’m happy to have been successful in leading the business from its conception in 2003, starting with nothing and in an industry that barely existed, growing organically to its peak in 2018 where we employed over 50 staff plus contractors, trading profitably with revenue over $30mil p.a.,” Gadd added.
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