Suit looms for Bundy farmer accused of trading insolvent

BESIEGED Bundaberg farmer Giatano (Guy) Barbera has had victories in Brisbane's Supreme Court, but another case, in which he faces allegations of trading insolvent, looms large next month.

Two civil suits against Mr Barbera were dismissed late last year, although he is still facing civil action in Cairns District Court.

Mr Barbera and his company Barbera Holdings Pty Ltd are being sued for more than half a million dollars by the liquidator of Barbera Transport, for allegedly trading insolvent.

The liquidator alleges the company traded insolvent from March 31, 2016 until it was wound-up by the ATO on February 24, 2017, according to court documents.

A snapshot of companies which Giatano Barbera was a director that went into liquidation. Picture: The Courier-Mail
A snapshot of companies which Giatano Barbera was a director that went into liquidation. Picture: The Courier-Mail

Mr Barbera, in court documents lodged in June, has vigorously disputed the allegations.

Part of his defence included denying that Barbera Holdings was at all times the holding company and the company was not "insolvent at all times'.

Barbera Transport's liquidator John Goggin, from Worrells, first lodged the lawsuit last May before making an amended statement in November which reduced the alleged amount owing from $586,295 to $567,653.

Mr Goggin alleged Mr Barbera "knew, or ought to have known" that "there were grounds for suspecting that the Company was insolvent, or would become insolvent as a result of incurring debts".

The amended statement of claim also asked for judgment against Mr Barbera and Barbera Holdings, although that was followed by an application for meditation on December 18.

The lodgement for mediation came after a civil suit launched by Chep Australia Ltd against Mr Barbera was dismissed 'by consent' on November 25 while a wind-up application filed by Barbara Farms against ACN 605 684 295 (formerly Barbera Family Farms) was dismissed on September 26.

Guy Barbera’s son Mason, who is also a racing car driver, has succeeded in his own right with M & R Farms in Bundaberg. Picture: The Couier-Mail
Guy Barbera’s son Mason, who is also a racing car driver, has succeeded in his own right with M & R Farms in Bundaberg. Picture: The Couier-Mail

The Barbera's have been farming zucchinis, capsicum and tomatoes around Bundaberg for almost 50 years.

A hearing has been set down in Cairns District Court on February 14 where Mr Googin is seeking mediation before a QC.

The liquidator alleges that over the 11-month period Barbera Transport traded insolvent, that the business chalked-up debts including an ATO bill of more than $119,000.

The biggest creditor, though, was IPG Global which was allegedly owed more than $421,000.

IPG Global, which was also under the directorship of Mr Barbera, went into liquidation in August 2018 with debts totalling more than $1 million.

Mr Barbera claimed in court documents in June that the company "was reliant on a farming enterprise with seasonal revenue" and "had a history of paying its creditors on extended terms that reflected seasonal income".

Barbera Transport was one of four companies of Mr Barbera's that were placed in liquidation, between February 2017 and August 2018, with alleged debts totalling more than $9 million.

Barbera Fresh went under in August 2018 with debts exceeding $5.7 million and the liquidator has since filed a supplementary report to the corporate watchdog ASIC.

Barbera Properties was also placed in liquidation with debts of $1.45 million.


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