Feb 16, 2021

Bankrupts banned for animal cruelty secretly ran aged care homes, report claims

Brothers who had been bankrupted and banned from the poultry industry for animal cruelty surreptitiously ran two aged care homes, using fake names and dummy directors, it has been reported.

Gery and Chris Apostolatos were banned from poultry farming in 2015 after they pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

The brothers were responsible for the deaths on their farms of around one million chickens from starvation.

Now The Age is reporting that the men were behind Chronos Care’s 2014 purchase of two Victorian aged care homes, one in Alphington and one in Mount Eliza.

However, neither Gery nor Chris were listed on any corporate documents relating to the homes, and neither were listed as directors of Mali Nominees, the registered aged care provider. However, Gery’s step-daughter, Rita Kohu, was a director of the company.

Chris Apostolatos was declared bankrupt in 2012 and banned from the poultry industry for seven years, while his brother Gery was declared bankrupt in 2013 and banned for a decade. Neither men had aged care experience

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act, a person is prohibited from being an approved provider if they have been convicted of an indictable offence or insolvent. Providers must also have relevant aged care experience.

The Apostolatos brothers were facing animal cruelty charges when the aged care homes were purchased. The men pleaded guilty to the charges in 2015.

The Age claims the two men used fake names to correspond with banks and lawyers, even setting up fake email addresses using the aliases.

The men are still involved in the running of Chronos Care, but their involvement goes all the way back to 2012, The Age reports. The men are said to have amassed fortunes from the aged care operations, which are heavily funded by the government.

The revelations in The Age today raise questions about how thoroughly the aged care regulator assesses those who apply to become aged care providers. 

Aged care regulator paying “urgent attention” to allegations

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson PSM, told HelloCare that aged care providers must not have “disqualified individuals” as key personnel and providers must have aged care experience.

She said the Commission is giving “urgent attention” to the allegations, but that information about providers is protected under the Aged Care Act, and cannot be released.

Anderson told HelloCare that while it is the Commission’s responsibility to assess the suitability of key personnel and the provider, once approved it is up to the provider to have “appropriate systems” in place for ongoing monitoring of key personnel.

It is the approved provider’s responsibility to undertake appropriate steps to assure itself that its key personnel are not disqualified, individuals. If disqualified individuals do become key personnel of an approved provider, providers are liable to “criminal prosecution if it is reckless as to that fact”, Anderson said.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act defines a disqualified individual as someone who is insolvent, convicted of an indictable offence or cannot perform their duties due to mental incapacity.  

“Where a key personnel’s period of bankruptcy has ceased or ended and they have returned to a status of solvency, or an indictable offence is spent, an approved provider should make an informed decision about the effect these matters have on the key personnel’s ability to perform their role within the organisation,” Anderson said.

HelloCare has contacted Gery Apostolatos and Chronos Care for comment but at the time of publishing had not received a response.

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