Tinkler fails to get out of bankruptcy

NATHAN Tinkler’s audacious bid to escape bankruptcy has fallen at the first hurdle after he failed to post the $1 million he proposed to settle debts of more than $550 million before a creditors’ meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Tinkler’s bankruptcy trustee, John Melluish of Ferrier Hodgson, said “part of the proposal was that the funds had to be sitting there before the meeting started”.

“This had not occurred before the time of the meeting and therefore it could not be put to creditors, so it was a bit of a non-event, in the end,” Mr Melluish said.

Nathan Tinkler at a recent meeting in favour of Drayton coalmine.

He said “three or four” creditors had attended the Grosvenor Place meeting in person and another “four or five” took part by telephone.

He said Mr Tinkler spoke to the meeting by telephone.

Asked if Mr Tinkler had said why he did not post the funds as promised, Mr Melluish said he could not go into detail beyond noting it appeared Mr Tinkler’s relationship had deteriorated with the other partners in Australian Pacific Coal –a business attempting to reopen the Dartbrook coalmine near Muswellbrook.

But Mr Melluish said Mr Tinkler had indicated “he could try again in the New Year” to put an offer to creditors.

Mr Tinkler was forced into personal bankruptcy in March this year after finance company GE Commercial moved against him over about $2.7 million owed on the lease of a private jet.

Documents prepared for his bankruptcy indicate he owes $553.8 million to more than a dozen creditors, although some of these, including US investment bank Jeffries, have no dollar figures next to their debts, indicating the total could be much higher.

The tax office is claiming $106 million in taxes and penalties.

Under bankruptcy law, a proposal such as this has to be accepted by 75 per cent of the creditors by value, and 50 per cent by number.

Mr Melluish said that if Mr Tinkler’s proposal was eventually accepted, even those creditors who voted against it would be bound by its conditions.

Under the terms of his bankruptcy, Mr Tinkler is obliged to make regular“income contributions”, which Mr Melluish said he had not been making.

“Given that the bankrupt has not paid any contributions, consideration is being given to extending his bankruptcy by a further five years,” Mr Melluish said in his December 13 report to creditors.

Although Mr Tinkler is no longer formally associated withAustralian Pacific Coal, Tinkler family entities still own shares in the company, which a year ago announced plans to buyDartbrook fromAnglo American.

German mining identity Hans Mendes agreed to tip in $10 million in September butthis deal was“not completed” and“still on foot” earlier this month.

Fairfax Media left text messages for Mr Tinkler, but they were not returned.