There are three main ways in which a bankrupt can be examined under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth). These are:

  • the Court or a Registrar can at any time, whether before or after the end of the bankruptcy, summons the bankrupt, or an ‘examinable person’ to be examined in public in relation to the bankruptcy (s81, Bankruptcy Act). An ‘examinable person’ is defined broadly as ‘a person who might be able to give information in relation to the bankruptcy’.
  • a bankrupt or any other person can be required by written notice to ‘give evidence’ to the Official receiver (s77C, Bankruptcy Act).
  • the trustee can require a bankrupt to attend a meeting of creditors. The meetings can be held at the request of the creditors or at the discretion of the trustee (s77(1)(d), Bankruptcy Act).

Examinations – Hidden Property or Assets

If it is suspected that a bankrupt is attempting to hide property, the trustee has powers under sections 77 and 81 of the Bankruptcy Act to make an examination to discover hidden assets. If the trustee detects evidence indicating that an offence may have been committed under the Bankruptcy Act the trustee may refer the matter to the Fraud Investigation section within AFSA. If following investigation the Fraud Investigation section within AFSA believe the offence can be substantiated the matter will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The public prosecutor will then ultimately decide whether to proceed with the prosecution. It is a criminal offence to hide property or assets when bankrupt.

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