Ex-director took $616,000 from failing builder: liquidator

A former director of failed construction firm Australia's Residential Builder has been accused of taking $616,000 out of the company in the lead-up to its collapse.

A former director of failed construction firm Australia's Residential Builder has been accused of taking $616,000 out of the company in the lead-up to its collapse.

The allegations against Robert Wiederstein have been made by ARB's liquidator Hamilton Murphy as part of a lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court last week.

Mr Wiederstein resigned as director and secretary of ARB two months before it went into administration in August under circumstances that his co-director Graeme Varcoe claimed to find concerning.

The collapse cost 240 creditors more than $7.21 million, as well as stranding 70 buyers with incomplete homes.

The suit has been lodged to recover dozens of payments that Hamilton Murphy alleges were insolvent transactions or unreasonable director-related transactions to another entity - Wiederstein Corporation - for which ARB received nothing in return.

Robert Wiederstein is the director and secretary of Wiederstein Corporation, and its sole shareholder is Bronwyn Maree Wiederstein.

Hamilton Murphy claims $616,000 of ARB's money was paid to Wiederstein Corporation to create a fund for "extinguishing any potential personal liability" of a related third company, ABN Group (formerly known as Boutique Homes). "[ARB] did not receive any benefits in return for the payments," the affidavit said.

The liquidators also allege that ARB could have become insolvent as early as July 2011, with the payments continuing despite the company's net working capital being $2.8 million in deficit at that time.

It's the second lawsuit to be sparked by the collapse of the Port Melbourne-based group, which built about 300 houses a year in the city's western suburbs. Last month, another Wiederstein company, ARB Developments, moved to block a statutory demand for a $1.31 million debt issued by Hamilton Murphy over payments it received from ARB.

Mr Wiederstein and business partner Raymond De Weerd used ARB Developments to buy land for display homes and lent money to ARB with a "risk fee" equivalent to a 50 per cent interest rate, court documents show.

Mr Wiederstein is contesting the debt in the Supreme Court, countering with a claim that ARB owes his company at least $2 million.

Mr Wiederstein could not be reached for comment.

cvedelago@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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