David Blecken
Apr 17, 2013

F5Digital founder claims to be victim of fraud; revises company structure

SINGAPORE – Gregory Birge (pictured), the founder and president of F5Digital Group, a Singapore-based marketing consultancy, has accused certain former staff members of fraud directed against the company while in its employ.

Birge: alleges that fraudulent activities devalued his company
Birge: alleges that fraudulent activities devalued his company

Birge said the Singapore authorities were currently investigating his allegations. The former staff of 35 (not all of whom are suspected by Birge of fraud or any other illegal activity) have left the agency in Singapore, although F5Digital retains a team in the Philippines.

Birge claims that the suspected fraudulent activities that took place 12 to 18 months ago interfered with otherwise strong revenue growth and brand value, ultimately lowering the worth of the company.

"Each individual who [is suspected to have been involved in] any of the events that happened over the past year has been reported to the authorities," Birge said.

As a result of the alleged criminal acts, operations at the company were adversely affected, Birge said. He expressed regret to clients that might have been impacted by the proceedings and for delayed payment to suppliers as a result of the situation. He explained that he planned to stabilise F5Digital and resume operations with a new approach.

The revised structure includes the formation of a new entity, G-Birge, which offers a combination of intellectual property, marketing, digital, gaming and business consulting and connection to a network of influential external individuals, known as Les Pleiades, in the fields of business and entertainment. F5Digital would continue to play a role in terms of implementation of strategy, he said, noting that the service would also aim to provide support to agencies. Birge said he would not be looking to replace the staff who had left the company, but would operate as an individual, outsourcing production as necessary and drawing on the support of external partners.

A former senior staff member of F5Digital had not responded to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s request for comment at press time. Campaign Asia-Pacific made contact with a representative from the Singapore Police Force, but the representative declined to issue an official statement on the proceedings.

Birge claimed that the suspected illegal activities included the falsification of documents, misappropriation of his signature and password to sign unapproved invoices and award salary increases, and the unauthorised sale of company assets.

He added that new business opportunities had also been declined without his knowledge and that there had been an unusually high level of transactions for “simple projects”. He noted that a number of incongruent payments in US dollars appeared to have been made in Singapore, the reasons for which he was still investigating. He said he had lost control of “a lot of electronic servers” and was discovering the apparent use of unapproved external services “every day”.

He said that the alleged fraud took advantage of his having recently been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and described it as the work of an “organised team”. He denied that poor business practice on his part had been a factor in the situation.

He said the situation came to light through a due diligence process during discussions with a potential partner between December 2012 and January 2013. Birge did not disclose the name of the company, but said that matters "did not conclude positively" when F5Digital’s forecast revenue for 2012 was significantly lower than expected and a decrease on the previous year, despite the company having recorded steady year-on-year growth since its formation in 2007. He said that as a result of the due diligence process he had taken the decision not to approve the 2012 P&L figures and to “recalculate to represent proper potential”.

Birge is a former general manager of Wunderman Singapore, where he was also the regional lead for the agency’s Microsoft account. He left the agency in June 2007.

Source:
Campaign Asia

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