Now-defunct Walton Construction, which entered voluntary administration in 2013 leaving subcontractors and suppliers in tens of millions of dollars debt, is making headlines once again.
More than 1,400 unsecured creditors who lost money in the company’s collapse are attempting to mount a class action against National Australia Bank (NAB) for $74 million.
A special purpose liquidator has been appointed to examine the bank’s role in Walton’s collapse, and the relationship between NAB and the Mawson Group, the restructuring advisory firm engaged by Walton in the lead up to its demise.
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A number of structural changes were made by the Mawson Group in an attempt to remove $18 million in unsecured loans to Walton, and avoid debt to NAB. Of these included the establishment by Mawson of two ‘phoenix’ companies, including one named Peloton Builders which assumed all operations of Walton.
The introduction of Peloton was done to shield Walton from creditors, many of which were subcontractors unaware of any trouble the company may have been in.
The special purpose liquidator will investigate whether NAB breached any statutory or fiduciary duties it may have had, by way of involvement with a company experiencing insolvency.
A 2015 senate inquiry expressed “serious concerns” over the relationship between NAB and Walton, indicating possibility of the bank having facilitated illegal phoenix activity.
At its peak, Walton had a reported property turnover of $360 million annually.
The company ran into trouble during the 2011-12 financial year, where it recorded a loss of $14.6 million, off the back of a $1.6 million profit the year before.
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