One of the biggest Queensland building industry collapses in recent years could be the subject of a court probe to uncover the reasons for the firm’s failure.
One of the biggest Queensland building industry collapses in recent years could be the subject of a court probe to uncover the reasons for the firm’s failure.

Court probe flagged into $15m builder collapse

SOMMER HEAT

LIQUIDATORS handling the $15 million collapse of Sommer and Staff Constructions have flagged a public examination into the events surrounding the firm's failure.

The 44-year-old Brisbane building company collapsed in 2018 with liquidator Trent Hancock, of PKF Australia, warning that creditors were unlikely to see a cent of their money.

Now Hancock, armed with a funding proposal from the Federal Attorney-General's Department, has told creditors a public examination held in the Federal Court would determine the prospects of recoveries available against the director Dan Burley and former directors of the company.

Work stopped on the construction of Citro apartments in West End after the collapse of Sommer and Staff in 2018.
Work stopped on the construction of Citro apartments in West End after the collapse of Sommer and Staff in 2018.

Hancock told creditors in a report that "while recoveries are not guaranteed, public examinations would be required to investigate the nature of the specific transactions conducted by the director and former directors."

Court dates for the examination have yet to be determined and PKF were not available to comment further on Monday.

The collapse of Sommer and Staff sent shockwaves through the Brisbane construction sector because of its longstanding reputation as a solid business.

The company's collapse left a 106-unit residential building in West End unfinished with subbies on the job owed an estimated $2.7 million. Burley did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

 

HOT ZONE

TOP tier Brisbane law firm MinterEllison has been caught up in the coronavirus scare sweeping the globe. A law firm spokesman tells City Beat that one of its staff members was among 172 domestic passengers and crew on a January 27 Tigerair Australia flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, the same flight on which a confirmed Queensland new coronavirus case was also travelling.

Passengers on a Hong Kong tram wear face masks in hopes to prevent contracting the spreading coronavirus.
Passengers on a Hong Kong tram wear face masks in hopes to prevent contracting the spreading coronavirus.

The law firm says that as a precaution, the staff member has been in self-isolation at home. "We are pleased to report that our staff member is showing no signs of having contracted the virus," the spokesman says. "Even so, as a precaution we are taking all steps recommended by the health authorities to ensure the safety and health of our staff and visitors."

EAGER APPOINTMENT

FORMER Automotive Holdings Group (AHG) director Michelle Prater has joined the board of AP Eagers, the company which took over AHG in a $2 billion merger last year.

Prater, whose grandfather Sydney Wheatley founded Perth-based AHG in 1952, held both corporate and operational roles at AHG and was executive director prior to its listing on the on the ASX in 2005.

AHG was chaired by her father Vern Wheatley until 2004. Since 2004, Prater has been executive chairman of the APPL Group, a property development and investment group of companies. APPL Group has an extensive automotive property portfolio, including a number of significant properties in Perth which are leased to AP Eagers dealerships.

 

ADVISER BANNED

THE corporate watchdog has banned Queensland-based financial adviser Timothy Shapter from providing financial services for a period of seven years. ASIC also has cancelled the Australian financial services of Smart Solutions Group (Aust), of which Shapter was a director and an authorised representative.

ASIC says its review of a sample of Shapter's advice files found that he provided advice that was not in his clients' best interests, was not appropriate to his clients. ASIC said Shapter also gave priority to generating fees for himself over the financial interests of his clients. The review found that Mr Shapter provided inappropriate switching advice by recommending that clients switch out of their existing superannuation and insurance products, and into higher fee paying products.


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