Developing News – Ex-Labor MP Rick Williams’ wife allegedly pocketed $350k in taxpayer money

The Sunday Mail article is detailed below:

The Queensland State Government is chasing a controversial former MPs wife for more than $350,000 in taxpayer funds she allegedly spent on “renovations of her business property” and other assets after her company entered voluntary liquidation.

Kelmeny Fraser, Sarah Vogler, The Sunday Mail (Qld)

August 4, 2019 12:00am

The wife of former controversial Labor MP Rick Williams is being pursued for more than $300,000 in taxpayer funds she allegedly spent on assets and property renovations.

Mr Williams’ wife Cheryl allegedly pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in national park permit fees collected through her business from as early as October 2016 – when her ex-tow truck driving husband was an MP for state seat of Pumicestone – and in 2018, according to Brisbane District Court documents filed in a legal action by the State Government.

The court in May ordered her to pay the Government $354,343 plus $4000 in costs, with the Government telling The Sunday Mail this week it had also launched bankruptcy proceedings.

Cheryl and Rick Williams

Picture: Facebook

Cheryl and Rick Williams

State Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the Premier needed to “immediately recover” the debt, questioning how it was able to be racked up in the first place.

In its District Court claim, the Government alleged that Mrs Williams, who did not file a response, used the funds on “other assets” and “towards property renovations of her business property”.

Mrs Williams’ Gateway Bait & Tackle shop in Ningi, near Bribie Island, had been an agent for the Department of National Parks, collecting money for vehicle permits and camping fees.

Under the agreement, Mrs Williams was to hand the money collected to the state, less any commission earned, court documents show.

The Gateway Bait & Tackle shop in Ningi, near Bribie Island.

Picture: Jamie Hanson

The Gateway Bait & Tackle Shop

As of 2017, her commission was $2.50 a permit.

The rest was to be handed over monthly.

But the agreement was suspended in mid-2018 after Mrs Williams failed to pay a $119,555 invoice for money collected back in October 2016, but billed for in March 2018, according to court documents.

The Government was soon chasing another $212,381 collected in the four months to July 2018 and deposited into Mrs Williams’ bank account, court documents state.

Company records show Mrs Williams’ business entered voluntary liquidation in August 2018.

The company traded from a Ningi property owned by Mr Williams.

Former Pumicestone MP Rick Williams.

Picture: AAP/Jono Searle

Former Pumicestone MP Rick Williams

Mr Williams became the sole director of a new business at the same address, Gateway Bribie Adventures, 10 days before his wife’s business appointed a liquidator last year.

Mr and Mrs Williams could not be reached, with a man answering Mrs Williams’ number to say they were in the Northern Territory.

Locals spotted them leaving in their caravan late last month.

Mr Williams spent his one-term as MP batting away controversy after his surprise 2015 victory.

But it ended with his sudden disendorsement by Labor on the eve of the 2017 election over alleged threats toward a local newspaper owner, which he denied.

He sold his Bribie canal home for $1.07 million last May and now lives in his Ningi lowset bought for $280,000 in 2012.

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