The fallout from the failure of the Great Southern empire in 2009 is still playing out in the courts.
The fallout from the failure of the Great Southern empire in 2009 is still playing out in the courts.

Former liquidator faces decades in jail

FORMER Brisbane liquidator has pleaded guilty to three fraud charges, each of which could see him spend up 20 years in the iron motel.

The one-time PPB Advisory partner admitted that he embezzled $800,000 from failed entity Neolido Holdings to his private company Peach Pty Ltd on three separate occasions between July and November last year.

He then spent the money for his own purposes, according to ASIC.

Brisbane insolvency players are still gobsmacked about the disgraced 56-year-old's stunning fall, especially since he was well-regarded in the industry.

Leigh, who also briefly worked for accounting outfit HLB Mann Judd, will be sentenced in the District Court on a date to be fixed.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

GREAT SOUTHERN

IT'S been nearly 10 years since one of Australia's biggest agribusiness investment groups collapsed in a heap but the drama has yet to end.

Indeed, fallout from the failure of the Great Southern empire in 2009 is still playing out in the courts.

Among the parties involved is Brisbane legal eagle Ashley Tiplady, who is now fighting Bendigo & Adelaide Bank over about $100,000 he borrowed to invest. More on that in a moment.

Great Southern buckled beneath a debt load of more than $600 million, devastating about 52,000 investors.

A little over 40 per cent of these punters had borrowed to invest in the tax-effective schemes, which focused on woodchips, timber, beef, olives, almonds and other products.

Most have moved on with their lives despite the disappointing results of a 2011 class action, which recovered just $23 million three years later. All but $3.5 million of that money went to the lawyers.

Controversially, the settlement still allowed banks to chase up loans to investors, who had been encouraged by the class action law firm to halt repayments while the legal battle played out.

Bendigo says it had about 8200 borrowers who owed more than $508 million when Great Southern went down. As of last December that number had fallen to just over 1000 borrowers who owe $86 million.

The bank is still pursuing many of these holdouts in the court, including Tiplady, who was among the 2000-plus members of the class action.

Bendigo lodged a claim against Tiplady in District Court in December to recover two loans it made to him in 2007 and he is defending the action.

The lawsuit says he borrowed the money to invest in the Great Southern Diversified Olives Income Project.

It alleges he stopped making monthly repayments after Great Southern crashed, failed to pay back the money in 2016 and ignored a notice of demand.

The bank is seeking to recover $101,004 plus interest and costs in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial on November 19.

Tiplady, a partner at law firm Russells, did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.

EATING CAKE

AS the war of words reignited yesterday between Corporate Travel Management and its short-selling nemesis, VGI Partners, we came across a rather amusing yarn from when the two parties first met.

VGI's Doug Tynan made contact with CTM's chief financial officer Steve Fleming at the full year results briefing in late August.

As Tynan pressed Fleming for accounting details, CTM boss Jamie Pherous interrupted to say he needed to speak with his colleague and apologised for the move.

But just how urgently did Pherous have to talk with his underling? Upon leaving the room, the VGI gang noticed Fleming sitting down eating cake rather than locked in conversation with his boss!



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