25-storey tower site shut down over certification issues

 

The construction of a 25-storey apartment tower in Sydney has come to a dramatic stop after a judge ordered the site be shut down and referred the certifier to the profession's regulatory body.

Justice Timothy Moore has also referred the builder of the Burwood building site to the state revenue office over $700,000 in allegedly unpaid stamp duty.

On Wednesday the worksite was left locked up and empty after workers downed tools following the Land and Environment Court decision.

The construction site at 1-3 Marmaduke Street and 7 Dean St Burwood has been shut down. Picture: Rohan Kelly
The construction site at 1-3 Marmaduke Street and 7 Dean St Burwood has been shut down. Picture: Rohan Kelly


The action comes amid a crisis of confidence in the NSW building industry following the evacuations of Opal Tower and Mascot Towers, as well as defects in other apartment buildings.

Certifiers, and how they do their job, along with the role of developers have come under particular scrutiny in the aftermath of the scandals.

Justice Moore has referred Maurice Freixas from Dix Gardner certifiers, to the Building Professionals Board.

The sale of the land has been referred to the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue over apparent anomalies in the declared sale price and another figure given in evidence to the court.

Justice Moore wrote that there were "serious issues to be tried" regarding the site on Marmaduke Street including the issuing of a construction certificate for the building.

 

The sale of the land has been referred to the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue. Picture: Rohan Kelly
The sale of the land has been referred to the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue. Picture: Rohan Kelly

Although no finding has been made on the stamp duty, a $13 million difference between the declared purchase price and one which was later claimed in court has been detected. The difference would have saved the buyer $700,000 in stamp duty.

Justice Moore was scathing in his summation of the testimony of builder Maroun Taouk, the director of TQM Design & Construct Pty Ltd.

The company has referred the certifier to the profession’s regulatory body. Picture: Rohan Kelly
The company has referred the certifier to the profession’s regulatory body. Picture: Rohan Kelly

Mr Taouk's brother, Mark Taouk, is the owner and developer through his company Dean Street Holdings Pty Ltd.

Each brother has shares in the others' company.

Maroun Taouk gave evidence on behalf of his brother on August 15. Justice Moore labelled Mr Taouk's evidence unreliable. He ordered that an emergency interlocutory order stopping work, issued last week, should stand until the matter comes to trial next month.