Court Appointed Receivership and Liquidation

THE CLIENT

Heritage Fine Wines Pty Ltd (HFW)

BACKGROUND

LIQUIDATOR APPOINTMENT

The Supreme Court of NSW appointed Nicholas Crouch as liquidator of HFW. His appointment meant replacing the liquidator appointed by the directors after a creditor initiated legal proceedings alleging the existing liquidator had breached his duties.

THE BUSINESS

About 3000 wealthy investors paid HFW approximately $100m to purchase and store about 1.3m bottles of wine. The vast majority of the wine had been purchased via the investors’ superannuation funds.

Bottles of wine varied in cost from $5 to $70,000. The average price of each bottle was $40. Investors were given a ‘certificate of ownership’ when they purchased their wine from HFW.

Unfortunately, HFW did not purchase all the wine investors paid for.

MISSING STOCK

Nicholas Crouch’s investigations identified that the company failed to purchase about 200,000 bottles of wine. This meant that certificates of ownership were issued to the investors for wine that had not been purchased.

The missing wine was hard to detect because an investor could walk into a warehouse and stand next to pallets of wine that matched their certificate of ownership without realising the company had failed to buy enough of that label to match the certificates of ownership issued. The company’s warehouses were vast and impressive to look at, but their records were utterly inadequate.

ASSETS

All 3000 investors obviously wanted their wine back when the company went into liquidation. Approximately 20 investors threatened to sue the liquidator immediately when appointed. Their intention was to collect ‘their wine’ from the pallets they had inspected in the company’s 100 odd storage locations.

Despite holding 1.3m bottles of wine that had cost investors $100m to purchase, the company itself had very few assets. The wine was owned by the investors. The company was merely a sales agent and provider of storage facilities

COSTS

This large scale, complex matter, required court attendance for directions on about a dozen occasions.

The average cost of our services to act as liquidator and receiver was under $200 per hour.

The court approved our fees on every occasion we requested without deduction.

The liquidation of HFW demonstrates Crouch Amirbeaggi’ claim to being one of the most cost effective insolvency companies in Australia.

CONCLUSION

Employees were paid in full.

However, like 95% of all liquidations, no dividend was paid to creditors.

A multimillion dollar confidential agreement was reached with the company’s directors to settle various claims relating to their conduct and obligations.

RESOURCES

Final Report To Creditors

Australian Financial Review