Hemisphere Constructions in administration after brand new home collapses, boss convicted of fraud

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The boss behind a disgraced construction firm that attracted unwanted attention after one of its brand new homes sensationally collapsed, has landed in a heap of legal trouble.

He Co Pty Ltd trading as Hemisphere Constructions, a building company headquartered in Sydney’s west, made national headlines last year for all the wrong reasons.

It was the dead of night on Good Friday when a couple in Condell Park scooped up their pets and young child and fled onto the street as their rental home began to shake.

Pictures of the aftermath show a house in ruins, with neighbours likening the sounds of the carnage to that of an “explosion” or a “car crash”.

A corner of the house above the garage collapsed, Fire and Rescue NSW later concluded.

The house was less than two months old.

But the saga didn’t end there.

George Khouzame, the sole director of Hemisphere Constructions, went on the run from police earlier this year after racking up a spate of fraud charges as authorities looked into the circumstances surrounding the house collapse.

Earlier this year, after commencing an investigation, NSW Police wanted to charge Mr Khouzame, 35, with fraud.

But they had trouble finding him.

In February, police called for members of the public to help them track down the “wanted man”.

“George Khouzame, aged 34, is wanted on an outstanding warrant in relation to fraud offences,” the release read.

“George is described as being of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern appearance, about 180cm tall, solid build, with black hair and beard and brown eyes.”

Nearly two months later, Mr Khouzame turned himself in.

He was slapped with nine charges and he pleaded guilty to all of them at the end of March.

The building boss was convicted twice of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage and once of an offence relating to contracting someone unlicensed to do work that required a licence.

He was also convicted of several counts of publishing misleading information to obtain advantage, and of making misleading statements on an insurance application.

Mr Khouzame is not facing jail time over the offences; instead, he was fined several times.

News.com.au attempted to contact Mr Khouzame for comment.

Do you know more or have a similar story? Get in touch | alex.turner-cohen@news.com.au

Hemisphere Constructions handed over the Condell Park home to its owners on February 15 last year.

The company was engaged to construct two dual occupancy houses on the block. The one that collapsed was two storeys high and had a swimming pool out the back.

But by April 7, just seven weeks later, the house had effectively imploded.

Authorities immediately started investigating the building business and by May, had revoked its building licence.

This left Hemisphere Constructions with little way to keep operating.

Hemisphere Constructions previously said it was working with investigators and had reached out to the impacted family of renters and the owner whose house had partially collapsed.

“We have been in contact with the homeowner and family to understand how we can support them during this difficult time, including offering temporary accommodation, hire car, storage facilities, removalist and many more for the family affected,” the company said at the time.

“We have followed all necessary safety protocols and have taken all precautions to ensure the safety of our workers, tenants, and owners of all our properties.”

But things went from bad to worse for Hemisphere Constructions.

In July, the Environment Protection Authority of NSW then began its own investigation into the company into the alleged improper disposal of building waste.

Just a week later, Hemisphere plunged into administration.

News.com.au has obtained a statutory creditor’s report, compiled by the appointed administrator, Michael Hogan of insolvency firm HoganSprowles.

The report reveals that Hemisphere Constructions owed unsecured creditors $4.864 million at the time it went bust.

Of that, staff were owed $53,000 from unpaid entitlements. Meanwhile, the Australian Taxation Office was owed a whopping $1.753 million.

Mr Khouzame’s company had landed 14 house projects between August 2021 to December 2022 worth $34.66 million.

During the last full financial year before Hemisphere went into administration, its average turnover was $20 million.

But after the builder’s licence was revoked, it lost $14.75 million worth of work because customers went elsewhere to finish their builds.

As a result, Hemisphere Constructions became insolvent basically overnight, from the moment the Condell Park house collapsed, the administrator noted. 

Mr Khouzame has since taken back control of the company by offering a deed of company arrangement, or a DOCA, to creditors.

He will pay priority creditors — which are staff — the full amount back that the company owes them.

Other nonpriority unsecured creditors will be paid 10c for ever dollar they are owed.

Mr Khouzame managed to pull together the money for this — around $500,000 – because his mother had recently refinanced her home and lent him the money.

alex.turner-cohen@news.com.au

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