Pop star Guy Sebastian assured people there was nothing to worry about his former manager, a “good bloke,” before discovering he had allegedly embezzled nearly $1 million from him.
Titus Emanuel Day, 49, has pleaded not guilty to 50 charges including fraudulently embezzling money allegedly owed to Sebastian through royalties and performance fees.
He also denies 50 alternative counts of larceny, or stealing.
The Australian singer resumed giving evidence on Monday in the NSW District Court following a delay with the death of the judge presiding over the trial.
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The 40-year-old previously testified that Day had promised him 10 per cent equity in his company Six Degrees in recognition of the importance he as a “foundation client” had played in its success.
Day told Sebastian in email exchanges tendered in court that he would also be given 10 per cent ownership of Solar D, a sunscreen brand he created.
Sebastian then took on an informal ambassadorship role at Solar D, he said.
This included interviews by publications Kidspot, the Australian Financial Review, participating in a large-scale rowing event while his back was sore, and a photoshoot at Catalina Restaurant among other duties.
He didn’t expect any payments for the work because the emails made clear he was part owner of the company, he said.
“There were requests for intros,” and he was often asked about Day’s character in relation to the company, so he gave “him a wrap”.
“He’s a good bloke, and I’m involved as well. There’s nothing to worry about,” he recalled saying.
He also recounted his foray into the European music market in about 2017, having had some success in parts of Sweden and Norway.
He thought it prudent to find an international agent to help him understand how to further his success in Germany and set up a meeting with Tessy Schulz.
Despite wanting to work directly with her, Day attended their first meeting.
“I remember feeling awkward, I really wanted to meet Tessy alone.”
Crown prosecutor David Morters SC continued questioning Sebastian via audio visual link after contracting COVID-19.
The musician who recently recovered from coronavirus was taken to various royalty payments over the years.
One email expressed Day’s concerns he was not receiving commission payments from one account that directly paid artists their fees.
“My understanding was always that Titus and his wife had full visibility, they were on the portal, they had the logins,” Sebastian said.
“I was doing the songwriting … the least they could do was send an invoice.”
The Crown alleges that Day – who managed Sebastian via his company 6 Degrees between 2009 and 2017 – embezzled Sebastian out of almost $900,000 between 2013 and 2020.
But Day’s defence barrister Dominic Toomey SC said his client has an answer to every single charge, and the police were perhaps “seduced” by the entertainer’s high profile.
Peter Zahra, one of the most senior judges on the NSW District Court, suffered a suspected stroke soon after the Australian singer had taken the stand. His funeral is due to be held on Friday.
The trial continues before Judge Timothy Gartelmann who announced on Monday that he would be taking over the trial and had familiarised himself with the evidence thus far.