A Queensland accounting firm has denied claims it performed crucial “due diligence” on collapsed travel website Bestjet before it was sold.
On Saturday, a “question and answer” email sent to nine.com.au on behalf of Bestjet founder Rachel James claimed that Hanrick Curran had performed “due diligence” before she sold the company to McVicker International on November 2.
Nine.com.au exclusively revealed that Bestjet, and its subsidiaries, went into administration on December 18, just six weeks after it changed hands.
A Hanrick Curran spokeswoman denied the Bestjet founder’s claims it had been hired to appraise the Queensland-based travel company.
“We can confirm, and take this opportunity to correct recent media reports, that Hanrick Curran did not perform ‘due diligence’ in relation to the transfer of the business and was not otherwise involved in the sale of the business or transfer from the former owners to the current owner,” she said.
Nine.com.au has contacted Ms James for comment.
Ms James on Saturday blamed McVicker Investment for the collapse of Bestjet.
“During the last eight weeks under new ownership and management, Bestjet has gone from a profitable business that followed stringent operational, financial and industry protocols, to one that has devastated thousands of customers and hundreds of staff, including our own family who have not received a single payment from new owner Robert McVicker,” she said in a statement.
McVicker Investment has refused to comment on the collapse.
But McVicker Investment director Robert McVicker told a creditors meeting in Brisbane on January 2 that an industry compliance audit was overdue at the time he acquired Bestjet.
“Upon acquisition, our priority … became to complete an overdue industry standard compliance audit. At the time we engaged an independent auditor, however this audit was later rescinded. I believe this was due to information provided by the former business operator not being able to relied upon,” he said.
“Notwithstanding I had a legal obligation to place the Bestjet group into voluntary administration, I felt doing so was the only way a thorough investigation could occur.”
Ms James is the wife of Michael James, the disgraced boss of Air Australia which collapsed in 2012, owing creditors nearly $100 million.
The administrator, Pilot Partner, is investigating Bestjet’s collapse.
An Australian Securities and Investments Commission spokeswoman told nine.com.au today the agency was monitoring Pilot Partners.
“ASIC certainly has the powers to intervene if it feels the administrators aren’t acting appropriately,” she said.
“We are monitoring the Bestjet issue closely.”
An estimated 10,000 travellers are in the red, with industry insiders saying Bestjet will ultimately owe creditors between $20 million and $30 million.