Alleged illegal operations shut down Port Douglas building site

BUSINESS AND DEVELOPMENT

Victoria Stone-Meadows

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Investigators from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission were at the site today to erect a public notice. Images: Victoria Stone-Meadows.
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The construction site of a block of luxury apartments near the heart of Port Douglas has officially been shut amid a Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) investigation.

In a statement released today, QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett said investigators were made aware of alleged illegal activity occurring at the 33 Davidson Street site.

“Alleged unlicensed contracting was being carried out by The Construction Studio Pty Ltd, Building Projects Aust Pty Ltd and sole director Frane Nadinic,” Mr Bassett said.

“On October 11 2019, we made the decision to suspend the QBCC licence of Building Projects Aust Pty Ltd for inadequate site supervision.”

Frane Nadinic, also known as Frank Nadinic, has faced court previously for dodgy building practises in Victoria.

A public warning sign erected at the site informs the building licence of Building Projects Aust Pty Ltd was suspended by the QBCC for inadequate site supervision.

Investigations further reveal The Construction Studio Pty Ltd, also linked to Frank Nadinic, has never held a QBCC licence.

The QBCC is also investigating claims of non-payment to subcontractors dealing with these entities and entry into verbal contracts in alleged breach of the QBCC Act.

Newsport is aware of at least five trade contractors and material suppliers who have been left without payment after working at the site.

One Port Douglas contractor, Rob Hart of Hart Electrical, claims he is owed money to the tune of $60,000 and has started legal proceedings to try to recoup some of his and his employees’ lost wages.


Mr Hart said he was first engaged by a representative of The Construction Studio under an hourly rate contract rather than under a fixed quoted amount.

While the first invoice Mr Hart submitted to the builder was paid, the following two he submitted were never fully paid.

“I started working on the site in about March and put in about three invoices at the agreed hourly rate,” he said.

“They paid the first one so I did more work and put in another invoice; they were meant to be paid monthly but the pay date passed and I kept telling (the site manager) I haven’t been paid.

“He kept delaying the payment and saying there was no money from the developer. This kept happening for about a month or more and I just said I’m going to have to stop work.”

It was after this that Mr Hart had his first run-in with the notorious Frank Nadinic.

“I had a meeting with Frank and he basically said we charge too much and that they don’t pay that kind of money. He insinuated we were having a lend.”

Mr Hart did not return to work at the site at 33 Davidson Street but remains optimistic he’ll see some of the money he is owed.

“I am hopeful that through the lawyer I’ll see some money but when I might get, I don’t know.”

Due to the hit his business has taken over the last few months, Mr Hart has had to lay off three employees and says he feels used and cheated.

While the QBCC could not disclose the exact amount left owing to material suppliers and sub-contractors, it is believed the figure reaches into the hundreds of thousands.

Melbourne-based developer Chiodo Corporation bought the site in 2017 for a reported $1.45 million.

Chiodo Corp terminated the contract with their first builder in October 2018 allegedly due to the Builder breaching a range of contractual issues under the Construction Contract including holding improper insurances.

Director of Chiodo Corporation, Paul Chiodo, said Mr Nadinic will be similarly dismissed as soon as contractually possible.

“We have issued him a show-cause notice which expires next week and at that point, he will be terminated,” Mr Chiodo said.

Chiodo Corp was made aware of the QBCC investigation about six weeks ago and started an investigation of their own to find out where the money they have tipped into the project has gone.


Mr Chiodo said as the developer he was not aware that Mr Nadinic had not registered his building companies with the QBCC.

“We knew Frak was the building license holder but through our investigation, we discovered he didn’t get the company 'Building Projects Aust Pty Ltd' or ‘The Construction Studio’ propertly registered with the Commission,” he said.

“So I put one of my guys there on-site and that’s when I found out about the non-payment.

“I wrote to Frank and we got access to his bank accounts, which he complied to our request. What we found was about $200,000 had been moved elsewhere from his account with a $150,000 payment to a finance company

“I think he was trying to pay it back by delaying the subcontractor payments.”

Mr Chiodo said Chiodo Corp will be chasing Mr Nadinic for the money they have invested that was supposed to pay the trade contractors.

“We are doing a full assessment now and doing everything we can to make sure the subbies get paid and we will go after Frank and Building Projects Aust legally on that.”

Chiodo Corp has also taken a hit to the hip pocket in this fiasco as Mr Chiodo said to make sure the subcontractors are paid means he will be paying again for work he thought had already been paid.

The developers have a third builder lined up to take over the building site and Mr Chiodo is confident this time the project will be completed without any major setbacks.

Frank Nadinic, via The Construction Studio, has been contacted for comment.


The QBCC is urging subcontractors and suppliers to exercise caution in any dealings with these entities or individual and to ensure contracts are in writing and comply with legislative requirements, which provide protections to subcontractors.

For more information contact the QBCC on 139 333 or visit qbcc.qld.gov.au.


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