In this post I share feedback that I’ve received from the Tipline. The overwhelming sentiments are that both Bartercard AND IRTA are unethical BUT there is very strong desire for both organisations to succeed. Nobody I know of yet actually wants either to go under (including Bartercard’s own competitors) for they all want the best for the industry. I also share how I tackle the challenges of divining truth in a mass of politics, spin and unethical behaviour.
Following my revelations of skulduggery relating to Bartercard’s current IPO attempt on the ASX, and problems within IRTA, various people from around the world have shared their thoughts. Some directly and some anonymously. Some have helped me establish the core facts. Others have tweaked the edges a little and filled in a few missing pieces to the puzzle.
As a result of this information I know a lot of the answers to the questions I have posed. In many cases I actually asked the questions because I knew the answers! It’s the way I can ‘write generously’, and be graceful about difficult issues, yet at the same time be brutally honest and as direct as I am.
It is human nature to gossip and to pull others down. I know that. We also want to benefit personally from every interaction with others in life, from the bedroom through to the boardroom. I know that too . . . I’m no different. For example my blogging of some 500,000 words is not done just because I’m an author, blogger and love to write (which is true), it also has a purpose of self-interest too – I want to be seen as a thought leader and a source of wisdom in the subjects I tackle.
But . . . the most amazing thing stands out in virtually all the feedback I’ve received from the barter industry (going back for a year or so) NOBODY ACTUALLY WANTS OTHERS TO FAIL!
The reason was put to me succinctly by a direct competitor to Bartercard like this (summarised from several conversations).
“Look, I don’t want them to fail. If they fail, it will hurt the industry and that will hurt our business. If they go up, we all go up. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. I don’t care whether they raise a billion dollars ethically, but I do if they raise even one cent dishonestly!”
The same thing too in regards to IRTA. People care and believe in it but they are VERY concerned about the current leadership, direction and practices. Here’s an amalgamation of the typical sentiments into a simple phrase that most people in the industry would endorse.
“I care about IRTA. The industry needs IRTA. The original intent was good but it’s gone off the rails!”
I’ve mentioned before that passions run high amongst the IRTA lot but again those that knock the organisation care about it. They believe in it. They want it to succeed . . . and they always make that very clear to me.
In helping people connect the dots I need to ask a lot of questions, suss things out and then make a judgement call on where the fine line of fact sits between PR spin, self-interest, common-sense and agendas. Most of the time I’m careful enough to get it pretty right and fortunately I have a black and white personality. I absolutely believe in absolutes – right/wrong, good/bad, true/false. I might not always know which side something sits on the dividing line at the outset of my investigating but sure-as-eggs I’ll get there sooner or later.
I have also learned throughout life that you have more success in whatever endeavour you choose if you hit things hard and straight (playing for keeps), rather than playing politics or using others.
Thus this means that when Bartercard conceals critical information in their Prospectus, and when politics and power mess with the clean operation of IRTA as per its original mandate, I shoot straight and nail the issues with fact.
General Support & Feedback
The support I receive is meaningful. Some people do bother to communicate their appreciation, and knowing that the silent majority probably would say similar things if they bothered to communicate with me, I’m encouraged and am hopeful of meaningful change for the better. This will mean that the ASX boot the dodgy Prospectus into touch and the politics, self-interest and deception within IRTA is flushed out.
So here are the sort of things the people have bothered to say.
In regards to stepping up (again) and tackling things that are a challenge:
“Dennis – Just wanted to say Thank You for telling the truth and being bold. You could have swept this under the rug because IRTA worked with you regarding the Ormita report. But there is a wrong being done in our industry and there you are bringing it into the light.
In regards to how I’m approaching the issue:
“Hi Dennis, i read your comments on the IRTA/Bartercards approach, its exactly how I would have tried to say it. At the end “Qui bono” will tell why all this happened and you can easily foresee how it will end. This kind of human system will end up in a dead end like a suizide bomber only it takes a little longer.
In regards to the expose itself:
“Dennis, what you are doing for the industry is really, really good. It needs to clean itself up and for some of these things to be dealt with. They’ve been festering away for too long and you’re bringing them to the surface is a good thing.
In regards to the motivation to ‘whistleblow’ on Bartercard’s restructuring:
“I am wanting the whole thing cleaned up as a shareholder who might finally get something if done correctly as well as I do not want them to fail as it will taint the industry – but I do want them to trade properly !
In regards to Bartercard the feedback is universally one of contempt for their ethics. Bartercard is widely viewed as a predator and an unethical company. I too have observed these things first-hand many times, and with anecdotal stories from the last 20 years, the latest dodgy Prospectus lodged with the ASX recently, their opportunism in relation to IRTA’s desperate desire to get off the GETs system, their historical conduct in the marketplace around the globe makes it clear – at a global level they’re definitely not the straight players they make themselves out to be.
Amongst the general feedback there have been some most revealing tips, and raise again what I view as some of the more substantive issues with serious implications for many in the industry and across the globe.
The tax implications (VAGST, Sales or Income Tax) are frightening. Bartercard’s strong use of sponsorships and their corresponding tax implications makes for a very scary situation and opens up that same can of worms that the industry doesn’t want opened. I’ve been given the figures for some of Bartercard’s various international forays. It raises my eyebrows.
While only the Bartercard (actually BPS Technology) Directors can answer the true intent of their IPO, if I were the tax authorities in Australia, I would be watching the proposed transaction like a hawk. The bottom line is that somebody somewhere sometime will need to do something about the incredibly large, nay humongous deficit with their house account. Bartercard will have no doubt received tax benefit for that debt going back over 20 years or more. I obviously wasn’t involved in the IPO and don’t know their true motives and intent but boy, it would be a wonderful day if I could engineer a situation where I got a cash windfall from an IPO (paying myself handsomely in the process) get the assets and dump the liabilities somehow. Now as I said I don’t know the inside story, but the fact that their massive liability (detailed on their balance sheet previously) is not included in their Prospectus figures; not even mentioned or referred to; and their track record of doing marginal things around the globe, makes me wonder what is really up. I recommend that the forensic beancounters in the ASX and the Aussie Taxman Department take a very careful look.
I’ve also been receiving advice on the requirements for listing on the ASX. There is simply no way that the current Prospectus comes anywhere near passing muster. I’ve now come to the conclusion that the whole thing is a total joke. It’s ludicrous. I’ve been informed that as a publicly listed company ALL material agreements need to be publicly available. I haven’t verified this but it makes sense to me. In my complaint to the ASX I made the point that we need to be able to verify the deal too, so BPS Technology Directors, can you please post online the agreements that you have entered into with all other companies? Let’s start with the agreements between you and Bartercard New Zealand. I would like to see that one please. Are there any backhanders for the privilege of allowing Mr Falkenstein to get out of jail? Then the various Directors and companies that you’re incorporating into your “technology” business please? Oh and just in case you’ve forgotten . . . there is that really exciting exclusive endorsement from IRTA. Please post that one online too. Remember it’s dated June 2014 so you’ll need to make sure that the date matches this as per your Prospectus. I really feel for the Bartercard shareholders. First they have a 1000:1 share dilution and watch the founder walk free with all their cash; then kept in the dark until the last minute; then get their hopes up that there will be only the second possibility of a return on their investment in a decade with an IPO, but then find that in tatters too. OMG what a mess!
I’ve had more specific information on other things too that I will share in due course once I’ve checked them out and validated them.
Bartercard has not communicated with me in any way and as I said, Paul Bolte ignored my initial enquiry as to what was going on, but responded to another matter so clearly he doesn’t want to touch the subject. That will mean that Trevor Dietz is probably the one on the hot-line (or chilly-line) to IRTA trying to hatch a plan to save the ship. Somehow both parties will need to present a credible story that tries to save both their butts. Such stories need time to conceive, hatch and then develop ready for our consumption. I’ve got all the time in the world though!
It’s now 24 hours and the ASX has not yet even acknowledged receipt of my complaint! I’ll update this situation in due course when/if something meaningful happens. [UPDATE: After asking them for confirmation of receipt, ASX Customer Services confirm that they have received my complaint. Confirmed Tuesday 5 August 1.00pm WST.]
The Board of IRTA is no doubt in crisis mode trying to work out how to defend the indefensible, and probably spin the whole thing to save their bacon and look good with their conference only weeks away. The Board of IRTA is clearly divided and if I was on it I would be asking very serious questions of the Executive. It’s now days since I broke the story and not a word from them to the world is just a total disgrace. Bartercard for one has been strung out to dry on the even of a $50+ million IPO. Surely they should have received the support that they deserve, after all they are an active IRTA member? Their response to my very direct questions will be fascinating. Once their formal response to the Bartercard fiasco is out I will of course make comment.
In due course I will be seeking individual responses from the thirteen Board Members and I will report their take on the matters, if they care to put their positions out there. Lots will be happening over the next couple of months no doubt!
Thanks to the industry for the feedback you’ve given me thus far. It all helps me get good positive meaningful commentary going.
Keep your communications coming, whatever they may be. I have received communications from people on all sides of this the industry, some of which I cannot mention because they have been marked PRIVATE, CONFIDENTIAL, BETWEEN YOU AND ME ONLY sort of thing. Sometimes communications may not be marked confidential but it would be inappropriate to share it for various reasons but I’ll do what I can to share as much as I can.
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