Land tax bill forces shutdown
A development company backed by former nightclub owner Nick Meletsis and alleged money launderer Tom Karas has been shut down over an unpaid $151,000 land tax bill.
Mr Meletsis and Mr Karas, an associate of convicted drug dealer Horty Mokbel, had made a bid to transform a Victorian terrace near Carlton Gardens into a 51-apartment development before the project apparently stalled two years ago.
But the State Revenue Office has now tipped the company, 70 Nicholson St Pty Ltd, into insolvency over an old land tax bill, successfully petitioning the Supreme Court to call in a liquidator to recover the $151,436 in land tax and interest owed since late 2011.
"I don't have anything to do with the company or the development," Mr Meletsis said. "I don't have anything else to say."
Mr Meletsis, formerly the company's director and secretary until mid-2012, remains its sole shareholder, according to ASIC records.
Mr Karas, who is married to Mr Meletsis' sister Irene, resigned as secretary and director in May 2011, shortly before he was slugged with a $44 million income tax bill by the ATO.
Fairfax Media revealed last year that Mr Karas, Mr Meletsis and current company director Frank Georgakopoulos established a unit trust, 70 Nicholson, when the company was set up in 2003.
The bid to redevelop the property, which was purchased for $2.68 million in 2003, had been stymied for years due to heritage concerns about its facade and close proximity to the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building. Mr Meletsis declined to comment on why the company chose to sell the property for $3 million in late 2011.
But the sale two years ago came as the partners faced steep tax bills. The Purana Taskforce had also used proceeds-of-crime laws to seize assets of Mr Karas and his wife, Irene. Ms Meletsis, who has also been accused of money laundering on behalf of the Mokbel drug empire, was served with a $2.6 million tax bill earlier this year.
The corporate collapse comes as Mr Meletsis fights a protracted Supreme Court battle with former business partner, restaurateur Lou Jovanovski.
The pair had run the James Squire Hotel in Docklands before falling out over a disputed $540,000 debt.
In court documents, Mr Jovanovski alleged Mr Meletsis beat him with a baseball bat after forcing him to pick one of three handwritten envelopes labelled "baseball bat", "claw" and "apology".