Real estate group ‘may have traded whilst insolvent’

New concerns have been raised about whether the highly diversified group caught in a $19.1 million collapse may have broken the law.

Lending Solutions International, one of four companies that formed part of the defunct Charterhill Group, may have traded while insolvent, according to a recent liquidators report from Heard Phillips.

“ASIC is currently continuing its investigations into the affairs of the company and the conduct of its director, Mr George Nowak, and we will continue to assist and support ASIC in this regard,” the report said.

“Our investigations indicate that the company may have traded whilst insolvent and, consequently, the director may be liable for the debts incurred during this period, which remain outstanding at the date of our appointment.

“We note, however, that on 2 July 2014 the director filed a petition for his own bankruptcy and the trustee of his bankrupt estate advised that there is no likelihood of any dividend to unsecured creditors.”

Adelaide-based Charterhill offered a range of services including real estate marketing, property management, mortgage broking, contract negotiation and SMSF advice.

The four related companies owed $19.1 million when they entered insolvency in January/February 2014, according to documents recently filed with ASIC.

In total, only $89,000 of those debts has been recovered, or less than 0.5 cents in the dollar.

Heard Phillips is also acting as liquidator for one of Charterhill’s other companies, Nova Real Estate, which has also been the subject of insolvency concerns.

According to a report by Heard Phillips in February 2014, Nova was “likely to be insolvent from at least July 2013”.

Heard Phillips said in that report that Mr Nowak had embarked on a restructuring plan around May 2013 to secure fresh funding.

“By the end of 2013, the Charterhill Group of companies was experiencing severe cash-flow problems and had insufficient working capital to implement a turnaround strategy, resulting in the collapse of numerous entities of the Charterhill Group of Companies,” according to Heard Phillips.

[Related: Collapsed property spruiker’s missing millions]

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