Pop star Guy Sebastian has told a court his former manager, now accused of embezzling nearly $1 million from him, had wanted to start a new company with him as the “foundation” client.
The 40-year-old is giving evidence in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday against Titus Emanuel Day, 49, who allegedly defrauded the Australian Idol winner on 50 occasions.
Day has pleaded not guilty to 50 charges including fraudulently embezzling money allegedly owed to Sebastian through royalties and performance fees, and 50 alternative counts of larceny, or stealing.
The Crown alleges that Day who managed Sebastian via his company 6 Degrees between 2009 and 2017, embezzled him out of almost $900,000 over three years.
But Day’s defence barrister Dominic Toomey SC told the jury in his opening address that his client has an answer to every single charge, that sometimes is so clear and obvious.
“You may wonder whether the authorities, particularly the police, were even wilfully blind to that,” he said.
“Seduced perhaps, by Mr Sebastian’s high profile.
“Indeed you might even wonder whether there was an ulterior purpose on the part of Sebastian and the police in the pursuit of criminal charges.”
Sebastian told the court after winning the televised singing contest in 2003, he was signed to a five-album contract with BMG records which merged with Sony.
He met Day through his wife Courtney who was his A and R (arts and repertoire) representative with Sony at the time, playing a diverse role in helping him make music, he said.
His management contract was coming to an end, and she organised a meeting with her husband at 22 Management, where he eventually signed and “mainly really just dealt with Titus”.
“I thought it was his company for a while until he alerted me otherwise.”
But after Day failed in receiving equity from the firm, he approached Sebastian about starting his own company 6 Degrees.
“He would refer to me as his foundation client, a client he needed to start a new company,” Sebastian said.
“He would use words like … marquee client.”
At the time he was in the middle of releasing his Like it Like That album, a busy time requiring significant promotion of singles, he said.
He had two No.1 singles and albums respectively to his name and several top-10 hits.
“I was very proud of what I had achieved at that point.”
After Sebastian sued Day for money he believed was owed, his ex-manager counter-claimed about a commission he felt entitled to from gifts the entertainer had received from sponsors, crown prosecutor David Morters SC said in his opening address.
“The only time this suggestion ever came up was when Sebastian began asking for money for himself.”
The court was earlier told no contract was ever formalised between Day and Sebastian, but after the “acrimonious and hostile” break-up between the pair, the celebrity later discovered “anomalies” related to royalty payments never remitted to him by 6 Degrees.
The trial before Judge Peter Zahra continues.
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