Queensland Fair Trading on trail of dot-com veteran

MyGrocer.com.au's office and customer lines were today out of service after Queensland Fair Trading Minister Margaret Keech yesterday issued a strong warning not to deal with one of its key executives, dot-com veteran, Ross Whitehead.

MyGrocer.com.au's office and customer lines were today out of service after Queensland Fair Trading Minister Margaret Keech yesterday issued a strong warning not to deal with one of its key executives, dot-com veteran, Ross Whitehead.

Keech today said Whitehead was an undischarged bankrupt who had been the source of several complaints from bricks-and-mortar businesses which had purchased territorial franchise licenses to supply goods for the online grocery store.

The Fair Trading department said it was investigating allegations Whitehead had been running up a series of debts with the suppliers and then selling their licenses on when they complained.

"I strongly advise people to be on their guard in any dealings with him," said Queensland Fair Trading minister, Margaret Keech.

The Minister warned that the financial ramifications of dealing with Whitehead could be dire.

"If Whitehead can't pay licensees to whom he is already in debt, you have to ask how he would pay new licensees.

It appears that Fair Trading's concerns about Whitehead heightened after he told licensees that MyGrocer.com.au would temporarily cease trading in order to accommodate a restructure.

The department did not say if it was able to trace Whitehead's current whereabouts or if the police had been called into the matter.

A spokesperson for the Minister said publicly singling-out members of the business community was only ever done in extreme circumstances, having only been done twice since the powers were made available to the Minister around three years ago.

The Minister also indicated that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was currently investigating MyGrocer.com.au.

"This warning should not be construed as an indication that people who have purchased a licence to operate a MyGrocer territory are not conducting a legitimate business," she said.

Ross Whitehead co-founded Shopfast.com.au with Davids Holding Limited, which was sold to Coles-Myer in June last year.

Whitehead held a 30 percent share in Shopfast in 1999 when he left to start a new venture, fulfilment and logistics company E-Gistics, which was placed into receivership in July 2001.

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