Bestjet’s former operators could be quizzed in a court hearing open to the public over the online travel agency’s $10 million collapse following a breakthrough deal.
Queensland liquidator Pilot Partners has applied for a public examination after reaching a critical agreement with one of Bestjet’s biggest creditors.
It means the company’s former directors could be summoned to court to explain why the company collapsed just six weeks after changing hands.
Read more 9Finance coverage of the Bestjet collapse here.
Just two months ago, Pilot Partners didn’t think it would have enough money to continue its probe.
A Pilot Partners liquidator told a creditors meeting in January that creditor IntegraPay was claiming the entire $3.6 million that remained in Bestjet’s bank account.
But now, 9Finance understands Pilot Partners has entered a ‘Deed of Understanding’ with IntegraPay, a payment processing company, which gives it access to a pool of money to conduct a public examination.
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Pilot Partners is currently waiting on a court date.
Kate Ryder, founder of the Bestjet Fiasco Action Group which represents thousands of Bestjet customers, has welcomed the news.
“I am absolutely delighted that Pilot Partners will be continuing its investigation into the collapse of Bestjet and hopefully those responsible will be held to account,” she told 9Finance.
“If this happens in an open court, I will be there to hear the answers.”
Bestjet collapsed on December 18, just six weeks after founder Rachel James offloaded it to her husband Michael James’s old friend, Robert McVicker Jr.
The liquidator alleges Mr James was a “shadow director” of Bestjet.
Mr James was banned from running a corporation for three years by the corporate regulator ASIC following the $97 million collapse of his airline, Air Australia, in 2012.
Pilot Partners said in its report to creditors that the Jameses have been largely uncooperative with investigators.
In a January 5 ‘Circular to Creditors’, Pilot Partners laid out its investigation plans “in (the) event funds are available”.
It said it would look into Bestjet’s dealings with operations in Singapore and the Philippines and any voidable and related party transactions.
It also said it would “consider the conduct of a public examination of relevant persons in order to obtain further books and records and oral evidence in relation to the company’s affairs and potential actions that may lead to recovery for creditors”.
Bestjet and its subsidiaries Wynyard Travel and Brooklyn Travel were acquired by Mr McVicker Jr of McVicker International last year in a 100 per cent share transfer.
But the liquidator has since revealed that McVicker International had in fact held 50 per cent of those shares in trust for Mrs James and that there was a “Put and Call Option” agreement in place enabling Mrs James to control 90 per cent of the group of companies by 2020.
McVicker International did not acquire Bestjet’s overseas entities, including Bestjet Travel Pte Ltd and OTAlab in Singapore, the administrator said.
Amid its investigations, Pilot Partners reported Mr James, Mrs James and Mr McVicker Jr to ASIC, claiming they “may have breached their obligations to act in good faith”.
Mr James, Mrs James and Mr Mc Vicker Jnr have refused multiple requests for comment to date.
9Finance has contacted IntegraPay for comment.
Email reporter Rosemarie Lentini at firstname.lastname@example.org