Insolvent trading claim against Tinkler still possible
THE liquidator of Nathan Tinkler's private vehicle Patinack Farm Administration, until recently the main employer at his thoroughbred stud, is still considering an insolvent trading claim against the former billionaire and fellow director Troy Palmer.
18 Feb 2013 THE AGE - PADDY MANNING
Adelaide-based liquidator Anthony Matthews was appointed to wind up Patinack Farm Administration in November over an unpaid $16,978 debt owed to the Workcover Corporation of South Australia. The non-payment was due to an administrative error, Tinkler Group claimed. But PFA also had debts of $4.6 million to the tax office and a further $417,244 in unpaid superannuation, and these remain unpaid according to the minutes of a creditors meeting held on Friday and filed with the corporate regulator.
Mr Matthews told the ATO's representative on Friday that Workcover SA had not filed a proof of debt, as PFA had paid it shortly after his appointment, "believing it may bring the liquidation to an end".
PFA director Troy Palmer had advised Mr Matthews that it was "management's intention to come up with the funds to pay creditors in full". Mr Matthews had received an indemnity for his liquidators' costs from Mr Tinkler and entered into a loan agreement with Hunter Sports Group , part of the Tinkler Group, to cover those costs.
Unable to stop the wind-up of PFA, Tinkler Group has since established a new company, Thoroughbred Administration, to take over its functions including employment of more than 140 staff. PFA employs only six workers on 457 visas, which will soon be transferred to the new entity.
At the meeting, Mr Matthews told the ATO that he had notified insurers of the Patinack Farm group of a potential insolvent trading claim and said: "I have spoken with my solicitor about it and we do need to complete further work and investigations to formulate a claim."
Mr Matthews also said PFA had receivables of $4.1 million - fees for services to Patinack Farm Pty Ltd - due from the Oceltip Investments Trust, which "appears to have been used as a type of clearing house".
Mr Tinkler is mired in a legal dispute in the Queensland Supreme Court with former partner Matthew Higgins over the revenues from Oceltip Investments, which receives $1 per tonne of coal produced from the Middlemount mine in the Bowen Basin, jointly owned by Yancoal and Peabody.
Mr Higgins claims the royalty proceeds have not been properly accounted for. Mr Tinkler, who disputes the claim, was seeking to move the proceedings to New South Wales. The case is listed for a hearing in mid-March.
The tax office moved to wind up a number of Tinkler Group companies last year over unpaid debts but the claims have been progressively settled and wind-up proceedings withdrawn.
However, Mr Tinkler could face a liquidators examination in the NSW Supreme Court next month over the wind-up of his Mulsanne Resources, which owes listed junior coal explorer Blackwood Corporation $28.4 million for a share placement agreed last year but never completed.