Guy Sebastian was paying his manager $500,000 a year a decade ago without ever having signed a contract, the Australian Idol winner has told a jury.
Sebastian is giving evidence against Titus Day who is facing trial in the New South Wales District Court accused of embezzling about $900,000 from the singer.
The 40-year-old told the jury on Wednesday he had not signed a contract with Day when he joined his new company 6 Degrees after leaving his previous agency, 22 Management, in 2009.
The Voice coach has claimed he was underpaid at least $886,175.10 by Day in performance fees, royalties and an ambassadorship between 2013 and 2020.
Guy Sebastian was paying his manager Titus Day $500,000 a year more than a decade ago, the Australian Idol winner has told a jury. Day is accused of embezzling about $900,000 from his former star client. Sebastian is pictured with wife Jules
Titus Day has pleaded not guilty to 50 charges of embezzlement as a clerk or servant, and 50 alternative counts of stealing. He managed Guy Sebastian for a decade before the pair split acrimoniously
Day has pleaded not guilty to 50 charges of embezzlement as a clerk or servant, and 50 alternative counts of stealing.
The 49-year-old’s barrister, Dominic Toomey SC, has been cross-examining Sebastian over his arrangement with Day, which the celebrity agent insists included ‘trailing commissions’.
The court has heard trailing commissions were paid for work negotiated during the course of a management contract, even if that work was delivered after the contract was terminated.
Sebastian said he had no such agreement with Day but continued paying him for work after their split which had been organised while he was still under his management.
He maintained he always kept his side of his financial arrangement with Day, which he understood to be the same as the previous one he had with 22 Management.
‘I was paying Mr Day around half a million dollars a year,’ Sebastian told the court.
Day was entitled to a 20 per cent commission on all Sebastian’s earnings from performances, which included almost $500,000 for supporting Taylor Swift on the Australian leg of her 2013 world tour.
Guy Sebastian has testified that he hadn’t know he should have been getting twice what he was actually paid on separate gigs in 2017 before he parted ways with manager Titus Day
The trial heard on Tuesday that Sebastian allegedly received only half his $494,360 fee for the Swift performances and missed out on $100,000 for gigs at Hamilton Island and Cancun, Mexico.
Sebastian said he was unaware until after splitting with Day that he was due to be paid twice what he actually received for various performances.
The court was also told purchases of particular share market stock shares totalling $578,000 had been made without Sebastian’s authorisation or knowledge.
A breakdown of about $900,000 in royalties and performance fees which were allegedly not passed on to Sebastian has been revealed along with details of a final acrimonious lunch between the onetime friends.
Day (left) and Sebastian (right) had worked together since 2007, four years after the singer won the first series of Australian Idol over Shannon Noll, another former Day client
At that meeting in early December 2017, Day allegedly asserted he was entitled to still be paid ‘trailing commissions’ for Sebastian’s appearances until 2022.
Sebastian said he was happy to pay commission for any gig Day had organised, but Day asserted the singer had obligations to him for years into the future.
‘I said we don’t just make it up, you know there’s no trailing commissions, but… Titus got quite angry,’ Sebastian said.
‘The meeting took a turn. He said, “You’re going to be paying commission until 2022”.’
Sebastian has been asked about payments made to him in 2013 for being the support act at four stadium shows in Australia on Taylor Swift’s The Red Tour.
The trial has heard the singer was to be paid $494,360 for his services.
Asked whether he received any payment other than $247,500 deposited into his ‘Guytunes’ bank account on December 23, 2013, Sebastian replied ‘there was no payment’.
Sebastian said he had agreed to be a support act for Boyzone band member Shane Filan for free at a time when he was frustrated by his lack of an overseas career under Titus Day
Sebastian said he was also due four payments of $33,000 each for performances on Hamilton Island hosted by Telstra in September 2017.
Day’s 6 Degrees management company ‘failed to pay two of the payments’ and also ‘charged me an extra commission’ of $11,000, Sebastian told the court.
In another 2017 performance, Sebastian was engaged by McDonald’s to deliver a talk in Cancun, Mexico and then sing songs accompanying himself on guitar.
The court heard Sebastian thought his payment was meant to be $33,000 when in fact the agreed amount was $66,000.
Asked when he had learnt this was the case, Sebastian said it was only after parting ways with 6 Degrees, about six months after the performance.
Sebastian was also asked about being a support act in the UK for British boy band Boyzone member Shane Filan in 2017, although ‘this was not a paid thing’.
Sebastian performed on Hamilton Island and said he was due four payments of $33,000 each, but that Day’s 6 Degrees management company ‘failed to pay two of the payments’
The ARIA-winner said it had been ‘quite a contentious point’ between him and Day that he ‘wasn’t really getting any opportunities’ to perform overseas.
‘I was seeing other artists get some opportunities and I wanted to see my management trying their hardest,’ he said.
‘At the time we were both acknowledging our relationship was on tenterhooks.’
He said he completed only part of the tour supporting Filan in a number of British towns because ‘I had reached a not so great place and the tour itself was an element of it’.
‘It wasn’t the right tour. I was also struggling with some mental health issues at the time.’
Sebastian was also quizzed about payments for a share called MMR, which he said he had bought on Day’s advice in four or five transactions he made himself.
Sebastian is pictured outside Downing Centre District Court where the embezzlement trial of his former Manager Titus Day has been beset with delays, including a judge’s death
‘MMR (was) a penny stock My Medical Records, and Mr Day had sent me numerous emails about this stock, saying, “This is a really great investment, I am going to be making a lot of share purchases, I think you should”,’ Sebastian told the court.
Crown prosecutor David Morters SC asked Sebastian about three payments tagged ‘MMR’ and called ‘Loan G’ in the sums of around $378,000, $88,059.18 and $60,000.
Asked, ‘Did you authorise Mr Day to purchase any MMR shares on your behalf?’, Sebastian replied, ‘No, never… There was never a time when Titus would purchase shares for me’.
Sebastian said he reported apparent discrepancies in musical royalty payments to him to police ‘because I deemed it criminal behaviour’.
Under cross-examination by Dominic Toomey SC, Sebastian agreed he had taken civil action against Day two years before going to police. Day had then made a counter claim against him.
The trial heard Sebastian was paid almost $500,000 for performing as a support act for superstar Taylor Swift, but The Voice star said he was ‘frustrated’ over the tax bill he copped for not getting his return in quickly enough for that payment
The trial lost another juror on Tuesday as it ballooned out an extra week because of delays, leaving 13 on the panel for the next four weeks.
Judge Tim Gartelmann refused to discharge the jury after a female member had an overseas business trip booked for a week earlier than the new projected date for the trial to finish.
Sebastian testified on Tuesday about his frustration over getting a tax bill because of delays in filing a return on his payment for supporting Swift.
‘It was like getting blood out of a stone,’ he the court about getting his 2014 tax return completed while he was changing accountants.
Sebastian described chasing up the reconciliations for his performances and tours from around 2017 as difficult.
‘Almost every tour was a nightmare,’ he told the court about reconciling his net income with the income reported on his tax returns after adding or subtracting non taxable items.
‘I would constantly have to chase up and my accountants were having a tough time.’
Sebastian said he had conversations with his accountants about the urgency in getting his 2014 tax return done, which included his earnings from supporting Swift.
Sebastian described chasing up the reconciliations for his performances and tours from around 2017 as difficult. He is pictured performing in 2016
‘I was very aware and very frustrated and I had a tax bill as a result [of the delays],’ he told the court.
‘It was like blood out of a stone trying to get this reconciliation from Taylor Swift and it was very frustrating.’
The trial has suffered a number of delays , including the death of original presiding judge, Peter Zahra, from a stroke.
Guy Sebastian is a judge on The Voice Australia with (left to right) fellow singers Rita Ora, Keith Urban and Jessica Mauboy