Dudley Leitch and his wife Karen are the subject of Supreme Court action by the ATO.
Dudley Leitch and his wife Karen are the subject of Supreme Court action by the ATO.

Tax office chasing down Leitch's

FORMER Killarney Abattoir operators Dudley and Karen Leitch are being pursued in the courts by the Australian Taxation Office for nearly $600,000 in unpaid taxes, the Daily News can reveal.

Documents lodged by the ATO in the Supreme Court in Brisbane show the couple – as trustees of the Leitch Family Trust – have run up a tax debt of $592,843.75 including interest, along with initial court costs of $1060.50.

The court action comes as the Leitchs continue with liquidation of various family assets, including the auction of their luxury home in Brisbane last Saturday, along with rumours of upcoming sales of more farming property in the Warwick area.

The Leitch home at Macgregor on Brisbane's southside was sold for $696,000 by RE/MAX real estate to an undisclosed buyer and it is understood the Leitchs plan to move to one of their properties to the west of Warwick.

Of their Warwick holdings, one of the most prominent to be off-loaded is the former Berrima feedlot at Elbow Valley, which the Leitch Pastoral Group purchased from Bruce and Joan Fanning in January 2008 at the same time it acquired Killarney Abattoir from the Hancock family.

Berrima is now understood to be the subject of an application to the Southern Downs Regional Council by interstate interests seeking to establish a large-scale meat chicken growing operation, with settlement of the sale pending council approval.

Killarney Abattoir, along with Leitch Pastoral Group-owned Pittsworth Abattoir and wholesale arm Condamine River Meats shut down last February, leaving hundreds out of work and debts to creditors of nearly $8 million.

A number of inspections of the Killarney plant have been made by potentially interested parties, but it appears a sale is all but an impossibility, with the abattoir currently being stripped of gear in what locals have described as a “cash-grab garage sale”.

Meat processing equipment broker Watts Meat Machinery, from Scone in the NSW Hunter Valley is conducting the break-up, with a spokesman yesterday declining to comment on who had engaged the firm and where sale proceeds were being directed.

Likewise a spokesman for Rural Bank, the secured creditor of Leitch Pastoral Group, declined to comment on how much it had been re-paid.

One local creditor, who declined to be identified, described the stripping out of Killarney Abattoir as “tragic” and “the end of an era”, saying family firms in the area did not expect to see money they were owed, despite the ongoing disposal of Leitch assets.

The Leitchs sold a 102-hectare grazing property at Beaudesert in November last year for a reported $1.33 million and still own extensive grazing holdings on the traprock west of Warwick, although they did disperse part of their Dorper and Damara sheep flock last June.

An investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) into claims the Leitch ownership companies under which the Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs operated traded while insolvent is ongoing.

Mr Leitch did not return a phone call from the Daily News yesterday.

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