LES Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance has been relentless in his pursuit of failed builder Walton Construction, but says the liquidator's examination of the company's affairs has taken too long.
LES Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance has been relentless in his pursuit of failed builder Walton Construction, but says the liquidator's examination of the company's affairs has taken too long. Patrick Woods

Liquidator targets key figures in Walton collapse

PROCEEDINGS have been launched against key figures in the 2013 collapse of Walton Construction which left Sunshine Coast subcontractors unpaid $3 million.

Liquidator Grant Thornton has launched breach of directors' duties actions including aiding and abetting against the company's sole director Craig Walton and Pat McCurry and Phillip Spry of business advisor Mawson.

The liquidator was also chasing repayment by Mr Walton of a $1.617m company loan and another $1.637m from Mawson for a payment it alleged was a voidable transaction.

It was also pursuing from Walton clients nearly $9m in unpaid invoices including money owed by Queensland Rail, a debt which had been assigned to phoenix company Peloton (later Tantalon) along with existing contracts on the strength of a phone call in the days before Walton called in an administrator.

The day after Walton went into administration in October, 2013, the new company Peloton, using the same staff, same building and the same vehicles financed through NAB, opened for business working on contracts for a number of former Walton clients.

Grant Thorton has also progressed proceedings against Mawson-linked company QHT which purchased $18m worth of Walton debt for $30,000 before the company went into liquidation.

The Department of Employment through the Fair Entitlement Guarantee was supporting and funding the litigation.

During a public examination under oath in the Federal Court of Australia in December, 2015, Mr Walton said Walton Queensland had not obtained an independent valuation before it sold $18.9m worth of debt it was owed by Walton Construction to Mawson-linked QHT Investments for just $30,000.

Mr Walton said at the time he had not been aware at the time of the transaction that Worrells had valued the debt at between $204,000 and $6.4m. He said he had relied on the Mawson Group's advice and was aware QHT Investments was Mawson-linked.

The $90m Walton collapse hit 1600 small business subcontractors and 140 of the company's employees unpaid.

Subsequent examination of the company's affairs showed it had been trading insolvent for a considerable time before its ultimate collapse.

In 2015 the Sunshine Coast Daily revealed a Deloitte report for the National Australia Bank noted the company had been relying on subcontractor retentions for cash flow.

The NAB was able to recover $20m it was owed by Walton before the builder went into liquidation.

Les Williams of Coolum, whose company WK Civil lost $800,000 on the Nambour Coles job, said the Australian Securities and Investments Commission needed to act on the liquidator's report it has had in its possession for the past 15 months.

Now heading the Subcontractors Alliance which successfully lobbied for new security of payment legislation in Queensland, Mr Williams said he also remained unhappy about the amount of time taken for the liquidator to reach this point.

During the recent election campaign Housing Minister Mick De Brenni announced a returned Palaszczuk Government would fund a public examination of two other failed builders Cullen Group Australia and One Homes which left debts of $38 million.



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