Former Wisr CEO Anthony Nantes is facing criminal charges, the ASX-listed fintech has revealed, just days after it sacked him as CEO, with his brother and the company’s chair, John Nantes, taking a two-month leave of absence to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.
In a market update on Monday, the Wisr (ASX: WZR) board said it “formed the view over recent months that Anthony was unable to perform the role of CEO to the level required by the Board and as such the Board took action in terminating his employment agreement”, on August 16. He’s been replaced by the company’s chief financial officer, Andrew Goodwin.
Subsequent media reports say Anthony Nantes was charged over the weekend. The company said his termination “was not occasioned by any financial irregularity or regulatory contravention” and it is aware the former CEO “is the subject of criminal proceedings brought by NSW Police”.
A statement by his brother, John Nantes, said he was “not involved in the deliberations which led to Anthony’s termination due to our familial relationship” but he supports the actions taken by my fellow board members.
“In the interests of good and transparent governance and to allow for the efficient deliberation on and management of issues associated with Anthony’s tenure as CEO and his termination, I requested my Board colleagues to grant a leave of absence,” John Nantes said.
Board member Matthew Brown has been appointed interim chair and the board said it looks forward “to welcoming John back as Chair at the appropriate time”.
The fintech has endured a torrid time over the last 12 months, having shed 20% of its workforce, around 40 employees, in April, following on from the loss of 30 jobs last September.
And last year Anthony Nantes lost an unfair dismissal case that cost the company around $51,000 in compensation, including $7000 distress.
The staffer had complained to Nantes, alleging an executive had said he wanted to “punch her in the face”. She was fired for a Skype chat comment, where she said “I feel like punching someone lol”. She replied “you better” to a colleague who said “I will uppercut them for u” and was dismissed for allegedly inciting violence.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Forbes said rejected the company’s position saying the prior complaints “caused Mr Nantes to judge the Skype messages more harshly and to act opportunistically and with greater force” than if the complaints had not been made, adding that he was “not satisfied that Mr Nantes had any real concern” about the manager posing an actual threat to her coworkers.
Wisr is due to release its audited FY23 results tomorrow, August 24.