Hemmes' construction boss agrees to pay Merivale $230,000

Justin Hemmes' construction boss has agreed to pay the Sydney hospitality tsar's Merivale group almost $230,000 in the wake of allegations he authorised false invoices to be paid into his bank account.

In civil proceedings on Thursday, NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Pembroke finalised the settlement deal by making consent orders that Joel Cheeseman, 30, pay $229,811 – the same amount police claim he fleeced from the bar and restaurant empire by authorising false invoices.

The judge did not make any findings as to whether Mr Cheeseman was liable, and Mr Cheeseman made no admissions. It is understood Mr Cheeseman's legal costs to defend the case would have exceeded the amount claimed.

Merivale obtained a freezing order against Mr Cheeseman earlier this month, requiring him not to remove from Australia, transfer or diminish the value of any of his assets up to the value of $300,000.


He was also subpoenaed to provide statements and other documentation relating to three bank accounts, and any other accounts held in his name or where he is a signatory, and all documentation showing the transfer of money in and out of those accounts, over a period between August 2015 and May 2019.

But the freezing order was lifted on Thursday after Mr Cheeseman agreed to the pay the sum, as well as interest of more than $15,000 and legal costs.

Meanwhile, Mr Cheeseman is due to face the Downing Centre Local Court next week on a charge of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage or causing disadvantage by deception.

Police allege that, between August 2017 and October 2018, he authorised fake invoices to be paid by Merivale into his bank account on five separate occasions. He has not yet entered a plea.

The criminal charges require intention and other elements to be proven, and the standard of proof is higher than for a civil claim.

According to Mr Cheeseman's LinkedIn profile – which appears to have been recently removed – he has worked for the sprawling pub group since May 2015, initially as a group facilities manager before moving into the construction project manager role, in which he claims to "currently oversee and manage all construction for Merivale".

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