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Retail closures show plight of bricks and mortar stores in Australia

The closure of many well known retailers shows the plight of bricks and mortar stores in Australia.

 

The collapse of many household names, including Pumpkin Patch, Marcs, and David Lawrence highlights the plight of Australian retailers, who are struggling to compete with the rise of e-commerce websites.

 

The convenience and instant gratification of online shopping revolutionised the retail industry. However, this is only the beginning. With global giants such as Amazon entering the Australian market, there are grave concerns about how local retailers can sustain themselves against such large scale competition.

 

The plight of bricks and mortar stores is exemplified through the demands of the industry, particularly fast fashion. Instant gratification plays a huge role in consumers constantly searching for the next best thing. With the bombardment of Instagram trends and what certain influencers are wearing, the climate has shifted to benefit retailers who can meet these demands.

 

Subsequently, traditional bricks and mortar operations are left to shrivel as they fail to adapt to changing customer desires.

 

If you would like more information on company liquidations, or are considering one yourself, then please contact CRS Insolvency Services. Our consultants are all highly trained in corporate insolvency assignments. We will provide professional advice to help you make the best decision for your company while avoiding personal liabilities. Contact CRS Insolvency Services on 1800 210 073 for 24/7 free expert advice now.

 

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What assets can I keep during bankruptcy?

Here at CRS Insolvency Services, we understand that the bankruptcy process can be very confusing and daunting for many people. As such, we’ve broken down the key points to know and answer the question ‘What assets can I keep during bankruptcy?’

 

Firstly, if your assets include tools used to perform a trade, you can keep them as long as they are no more than the saleable value of $3,750.

 

Secondly, if you own a vehicle or vehicles for transport, you are also allowed to keep them, provided that they are no more than the saleable value of $7,900. However, if you owe finance on the vehicle then this will vary. In this scenario, the $7,900 threshold will be determined by the vehicle’s value less the secured debt.

 

Thirdly, here is a non-exhaustive list of other possessions that you are allowed to keep in bankruptcy:

  • Household goods, such as appliances, furniture and clothing
  • Personal injury claims and compensation
  • Life insurance policies

 

These statutory thresholds are maintained by AFSA, and these values are correct at the date of publication.

 

For more information, we offer a FREE initial consultation so that you can get unbiased, expert advice on how a bankruptcy can be best for you. Call the CRS Insolvency Services hotline at 1800 210 073.

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How do you file for bankruptcy in Australia?

Here at CRS Insolvency Services, we understand that the process of filing for bankruptcy can seem difficult and daunting. However, our personal insolvency advisors have helped simplify the process for you.

 

Here’s what’s required to file for bankruptcy in Australia:

 

Choosing a Bankruptcy Trustee

There are two options when appointing a bankruptcy trustee.

The first option is to appoint the Official Trustee from the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA). If you lodge your application directly with AFSA, the Official Trustee will automatically become your Bankruptcy Trustee.

 

Otherwise, for your second option, you can choose to appoint a Registered Trustee in private practice. A registered Trustee must be registered by AFSA to accept appointments under the Bankruptcy Act. If you choose this option, you must lodge your application with the Registered Trustee as they will need to sign and attach a Consent to Act with your application.

 

Completing the Bankruptcy Forms

You will need to complete the following forms before AFSA will accept your application:

  • Debtor’s Petition; and
  • Statement of Affairs

 

AFSA may also request certain supporting documentation to support the information provided in your Statement of Affairs.

 

Here at CRS Insolvency Services, Anthony Warner is our in-house Bankruptcy Trustee if you choose to appoint a Registered Trustee. If you want bankruptcy advice that you can trust call CRS Insolvency Services on 1800 210 073 today.

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How CRS’s Simple, Low Cost Company Liquidation Process Can Help You

Here at CRS Insolvency Services, Anthony Warner is a highly experienced insolvency specialist. We assist businesses with our simple, low cost company liquidations. We provide professional advice to company directors who are concerned about the solvency of their companies.

 

Our team brings you the expertise, knowledge and experience to help you make the right decisions in recognising and dealing with a business under stress. We follow a simple, low cost company liquidation process to help businesses find the most appropriate insolvency solution for them.

 

If you are struggling with your company debts, we would like to help you too.

 

At CRS Insolvency Services, we understand that it can be difficult making the first move to help solve your insolvency issues. This is why we offer a FREE initial consultation for everyone who calls our toll-free, 24/7 hotline on 1800 210 073. We also offer a FREE initial meeting at our head office in Sydney. If you elect to call our hotline you may wish to remain anonymous until you decide to proceed with a service we offer.

 

We do this because we want to make sure that we can help and steer you in the direction that is best for you before you make any commitments.

 

When you call us, you can expect expert advice that is tailored to your situation based on years of experience and knowledge. And everything that is said in the phone call will remain confidential.

 

Our 24 hours insolvency advice line is FREE of charge and without obligation. We have assisted thousands of Australians with our simple, low cost company liquidation process. If you have insolvency concerns call us now on 1800 210 073.

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Why Liquidating Your Company Could Be the Best Thing for You

Liquidating your company is something that many company directors want to avoid. However, if you find that your company is insolvent and your company debts are piling up, then liquidation may be the only solution for you. The decision may seem daunting and challenging, but there are some benefits to liquidating your company that can offer you some relief and peace of mind.

 

Eliminates risk of insolvent trading

 

Insolvent trading is when a company continues to trade knowing that their company is insolvent. It is illegal and should a company director be found guilty of insolvent trading, they risk civil and criminal penalties.

 

As the director, it is your responsibility to take appropriate action when your company is unable to pay its debts as they fall due. By appointing a liquidator on a voluntary basis, you are minimising the risk of insolvent trading and any future claim.

 

Legal action cannot be taken against the company

 

When you liquidate your company, creditors are unable to hassle or pursue you or take any legal action against your company. This gives you breathing space to take a moment and explore your options without the constant harassment from your creditors or the added stress of potential legal action.

 

Peace of mind

 

Gaining a peace of mind is one of the great benefits of liquidation. It lifts the weight off your shoulders and stops creditors and debt collectors from constantly calling you. While it is sad that your company has come to an end, the benefits of liquidating your company means that you have the chance to start over and build a new company, learning from the financial situation of the previous one.

 

If you are thinking of liquidating your company, you need to consult with an insolvency specialist. At CRS Insolvency Services, our consultants are all highly trained in corporate insolvency assignments. We will provide professional advice to help you make the best decision for your company while avoiding personal liabilities. Contact CRS Insolvency Services on 1800 210 073 for 24/7 free expert advice now.

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Can you be banned from being a company director?

If you are a director embarking on a new business venture, you are responsible for a number of obligations. One of these obligations is actually understanding the responsibilities of being a company director. This includes the factors that may cause you to get banned from acting as a director for a certain period of time.

There are two main reasons that may cause ASIC to ban you.

1) ASIC Disqualification
According to the Corporations Act (Section 206F), ASIC can disqualify someone from managing a corporation for up to 5 years if they have been an officer of two or more companies that have entered liquidation within the last 7 years. This is part of a broader issue known as phoenixing.

However, ASIC is required to consider the following factors before determining whether or not it should ban someone from acting as a company director. This includes any relationship between any of the companies, making a judgement regarding the person’s conduct in relation to the management of the company; and deciding whether or not the disqualification would be in the public interest.

2) Bankruptcy
If you are a company director who has declared bankruptcy, then you cannot act as a director of any company whilst you are bankrupt. It is worth noting that a typical Bankruptcy period lasts for three years.

We understand that being a company director can be overwhelming. This is why we pledge to make the insolvency process as easy as possible for you. We will keep you informed at all times. We want to help you every step of the way, and that is why we offer free, 24/7 advice on our insolvency hotline. Call now on 1800 210 073.

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CRS helped gentleman clothing chain restructure

Anthony Warner was appointed voluntary administrator by the Scarf family in 2008 to help restructure the business. During the voluntary administration process we kept the business trading and all retail stores remained open. We worked with the Scarf family so they could formulate a deed of company arrangement which we felt comfortable with and could recommend to creditors. The deed of company arrangement was successfully implemented and the business was successfully restructured avoiding a company liquidation. The Rubeun F Scarf business continues to trade today.

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ATO seeks order to wind up Gore

ATO seeks order to wind up Gore

THE Australian Taxation Office plans to seek a Federal Court order to bankrupt failed Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore.

The ATO flagged its intentions yesterday after Mr Gore’s creditors voted overwhelmingly to terminate his personal insolvency agreement to repay a fraction of the $495 million he owed.

Mr Gore’s trustee, accountant Anthony Warner, of insolvency firm CRS Insolvency Services, determined this month that Mr Gore had defaulted on a deal struck in late 2010.

Under that agreement, Mr Gore was required to repay just $3.3 million and deposit 30 per cent of any profits into a trust.

Some of Mr Gore’s biggest creditors, including the Mayfair Group and Trilogy Funds Management, had strongly pushed for Mr Gore to be bankrupted because it would give greater investigative powers to a trustee.

Mr Gore, who was bankrupt in the 1990s, said he had launched Federal Court action to challenge Mayfair’s $152 million debt claim. The next hearing in the matter has been set down for May 9.

“It is my opinion that the matters before the court ought to have been heard prior to any (creditors’) meeting taking place,” Mr Gore said.

But Mayfair chairman Shane Stone said yesterday Mr Gore’s challenge had no basis in fact or law.

He said a bankruptcy trustee could dig deeper in to Mr Gore’s business affairs and search for possible hidden assets.

”There’s more to be done on Gore and his accomplices,” Mr Stone said. ”We’d like to know where the money went. We would like to really understand just what went on.”

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The Rene Rivkin Story

April 28th, 2014

During his lifetime, Rene Rivkin was a well known stockbroker and entrepreneur. His flamboyant nature meant that he was never far
from controversy. After being convicted for insider trading, serving a 9 month sentence of periodic detention and being banned for life from holding a stockbroking licence, Rivkin took his own life on 1 May 2005

The reason for the appointment

After his death, Rivkin’s executors ascertained that his deceased estate was not sufficient to pay his creditors. In particular, the
Australian Taxation Office had recently served a demand for approximately $21 million in respect of unpaid tax and penalties. That
demand arose out of a long running and high profile ATO and ASIC investigation into Rivkin’s business affairs including share trades
made through Swiss bank accounts.

On 7 November 2006, Rivkin’s executors applied to the Federal Court of Australia seeking an order for the administration of the
deceased estate under Part XI of the Bankruptcy Act. The Court made that order and appointed Anthony Warner of CRS Insolvency Services as trustee of the bankrupt deceased estate. From the date of his appointment, Mr Warner took steps to unravel the complex financial and business dealings of the late Rene Rivkin.

There was a particular emphasis on finding undisclosed or concealed assets that could be realised so as to be divided amongst Rivkin’s
creditors.

The administration of the deceased estate under Part XI of the Bankruptcy Act had 4 distinct stages which were as follows:

  1. The sale of Rivkin’s private watch collection.
  2. Recognition of the bankruptcy and litigation in England.
  3. Investigation of secretive share trading through Scottish partnerships.
  4. Investigation of and recovery from concealed offshore companies in Jersey

Sale of extensive private watch collection

During his lifetime, Rivkin maintained an extensive collection of Swiss watches. Many of those watches were purchased during the world famous annual Watch and Jewellery show in Basel, Switzerland. The watch collection was auctioned on-line by CRS Insolvency Services. The auction attracted a high degree of publicity and public interest. So far as we are aware, the auction of the Rivkin watch collection was the first time an Australian Insolvency Practitioner had conducted his or her own on-line auction without the assistance of an auctioneer.

The auction was a great success and generated sales well above valuation prices. All watches put up for auction were sold with the
most expensive watch drawing a bid of $20,200 (a Harry Winston men’s dress watch).

Recognition of the bankruptcy and litigation in England

Another iconic feature of the administration of Rivkin’s estate is its involvement in litigation in the United Kingdom.

In May 2007, Mr Warner, with the assistance of Ashfords LLP in England, applied to the English High Court for an order recognising the Australian bankruptcy proceedings as foreign main proceedings under the UNICTRAL Model Law. In light of the fact that the UNICTRAL Model Law came into effect in England only in April 2006, this was one of the first applications of its kind in the United Kingdom. The English High Court made the order sought, which greatly assisted Mr Warner in unravelling the complex structures that had been put into place by Rivkin and his advisors in the United Kingdom.

In August 2007, Mr Warner again applied to the English High Court under the Model Law (Article 21(1)(d)) for an order that Vefides
(a corporate services provider responsible for managing a relevant structure) produce copies of documents relating to the dealings
between Rivkin and various Scottish partnerships. While Verfides did not intend to oppose the application, a Swiss lawyer, Benno
Hafner, and his law firm, Hafner & Hoschstrasser (”the Intervenors”) applied to be joined to the application.

The Intervenors claimed to be interested parties within the meaning of Article 22 of the Model Law on the basis that they had a number of dealings with Verfides on behalf of 60 of its clients, and any disclosure of documents by Verfides to the Court may be in breach of the Intervenors’confidential obligations or an infringement of their clients’ right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

At the same time as Mr Warner’s application for the disclosure of documents, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission had brought proceedings seeking disclosure of the same documents (“the Mutual Legal Assistance Proceedings”). The Intervenors had a similar involvement in those roceedings. They eventually sought an order from the Court in Mr Warner’s proceedings that Mr Warner’s application be stayed until after the outcome of the Mutual Legal Assistance Proceedings. After a delay of almost 12 months, in May 2008, the English High Court refused to grant such stay and the matter proceeded to a substantive hearing to determine whether the documents ought to be disclosed.

At the final hearing, Ashfords LLP on behalf of Mr Warner argued that the Intervenors’ and their clients’ rights under Article 8 would not be infringed by disclosure of the documents. In the alternative, if it was found that the disclosure would infringe those rights, Mr Warner as Trustee in Bankruptcy was exercising a statutory function and, accordingly, such interference with the rights under Article 8 rights was justified under subsection (2) of that Article. The English High Court held that the rights under Article 8 would have been interfered with, but agreed with Ashfords LLP’s submission that such interference was justified in the circumstances: Warner v Verfides & Anor [2008] EWHC 2609 (Ch) (29 October 2008. It then made an order for disclosure of all the documents save for 7 pages which had been removed or redacted following confidential submissions to the Court by the Intervenors.

Complex dealings through Switzerland

The disclosure of documents and further investigations indicated that Rivkin used a complex structure of Scottish limited partnerships to trade shares anonymously using bank accounts maintained in Switzerland. A Scottish partnership is a different concept to a general partnership in the sense that the partnership or “firm” is treated as a distinct legal person separate from its members. Further, the liability of partners differs in that a Scottish partnership can consist of general partners who are liable for the debts and obligations of the limited partnership and limited partners whose liability is limited to the extent of their capital contributions. Management functions are exercised by the general partners and a limited partner is unable to take part in or otherwise interfere with the management of the partnership.

The partnership and banking practices were established to conceal Rivkin’s beneficial ownership of the funds and assets within the
structure. The anonymity afforded by the structure allowed Rivkin to trade shares for many years without such trades and resulting
profits being linked to him by the Australian authorities. It was not until the ATO and ASIC conducted their detailed investigation that the full extent of Rivkin’s secretive trades came to light. The tax assessments and penalties that flowed from the investigation was the main impetus for approaching the Court for administration under Part XI.

Mr Warner was able to use his position as trustee of the deceased estate to obtain information that was not available to the regulators during the course of their investigation. CRS appointed Swiss auditors to review Swiss bank accounts linked with Rivkin. CRS also appointed an investigator on the ground in Zurich to conduct discreet inquiries in relation to Rivkin’s affairs. The work on the part of CRS paid off when transcript of a confidential compulsory interview conducted by the District Attorney of the Canton of Zurich came into the hands of Mr Warner. The interview arose out of allegations that a bank manager employed by Bank Leumi (an Israeli bank based in Zurich) embezzled funds held in Bank Leumi accounts or otherwise transferred such funds without authorisation. The banker, Mr Ernst Imfeld, alleged that Rivkin had created documents that were partly forged relating to share and currency transactions.

The interview was conducted in December 2002 and Rivkin soon admitted that he controlled the accounts held in the name of various Scottish partnerships and was the controlling mind of the partnerships themselves. Rivkin testified that the Scottish partnerships maintained accounts with Bank Leumi. When Rivkin wanted to trade shares anonymously, he would purchase shares on the Australian Stock Exchange (and markets around the world) in the name of Bank Leumi and the bank manager. On notification of the purchase, the manager would automatically attribute the shares to the accounts of the Scottish partnerships. The bank manager established portfolios with each of the accounts.

Rivkin would only contact the bank manager if the shares purchased were in fact purchased for or on behalf
of Rivkin’s associates. If that was the case, the bank manager would allot the assets to the relevant portfolios within the account.
Imfeld’s unauthorised transactions affected, amongst others, accounts held in the name of Rivkin controlled Scottish partnerships.
Accordingly, Mr Warner took the view that proceedings should be brought in Switzerland to recover the funds that were misappropriated by Imfeld. The Swiss auditors appointed by Mr Warner were able to establish that approximately AUD$2,780,000 had been misappropriated by Imfeld and he admitted to same. The Swiss auditors also identified further suspected unauthorised transactions amounting to AUD$7,910,000. Imfeld was convicted of the fraud in 2008 and received a sentence of 8 years imprisonment. The Court found that Imfeld had misappropriated at least AUD$175,000,000.

In December 2010, Mr Warner commenced proceedings against Bank Leumi in the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich on behalf of the bankrupt estate and the Scottish partnerships maintained by Rivkin. The purpose of the proceedings was to recover monies misappropriated by Imfeld. Mr Warner experienced high barriers of entry to the Commercial Court. For instance, the Court filing fee alone amounted to approximately AUD$240,000. Cases in the Commercial Court are ranked in priority based on the quantum of the claim and the importance of the matters at stake. Cases involving significant amounts of money and issues of high importance are fast tracked through the system notwithstanding the date on which they were filed. The system also involves a number of preliminary hearings where the parties are encouraged to mediate. At such preliminary hearings, the judge will have read the papers and their assistant would have written an advice on the matter. The judge then gives a preliminary opinion and indicates what the likely outcome will be if the matter proceeds to a full hearing. If the matter does proceed to a full hearing, the judge that conducts the preliminary hearing also presides over the full hearing. When the first preliminary hearing is finalised and if the matter is referred to a full hearing, the Commercial Court requires a retainer to progress the matter further. In this case, the Commercial Court required a retainer of between approximately AUD$175,000 and AUD$233,000 to write and issue judgment in the matter. It was estimated that the judgment would be available between 12 to 18 months after payment of the retainer. The Swiss proceedings were settled in December 2012 for an undisclosed sum.

Concealed offshore companies in Jersey

In the course of the administration, Mr Warner conducted public examinations. As a result of the information disclosed in the examinations and further evidence found in the course of his investigation, Mr Warner formed the view that Rivkin was the beneficial owner of funds held by a company known as Thameslink Limited. It was apparent that Thameslink was registered and maintained bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown dependency located off the coast of Normandy, France.

During his investigation into the affairs of Rivkin, Mr Warner interviewed various employees and associates of Equity Trust, a corporate services provider in Jersey responsible for managing Thameslink. Those interviews made it clear that substantial funds were held in Thameslink’s Jersey bank account. Despite requests by Mr Warner, Equity Trust did not confirm that they would freeze the Thameslink accounts of their own volition pending proceedings being brought by Mr Warner to recover the funds. Fearing an imminent risk of dissipation of the Thameslink funds, Mr Warner retained Ashfords LLP (UK law firm) who were assisted by Hanson Renouf (Jersey law firm) to apply for a freezing order and an order for disclosure of all documents relating to Thameslink and its accounts within 24 hours. Those orders were granted.

Jersey is not and never has been a signatory to the UNCITRAL Model Law. Under the laws of Jersey, it is open to the Courts to have
regard to the operation of the Model Law in insolvency proceedings, but the Model Law does not actually apply. The recognition of
foreign bankruptcies and provision of judicial assistance in Jersey is therefore wholly discretionary.

To leap the hurdle posed by the laws of Jersey, Mr Warner applied to the Federal Court of Australia for the issue of a letter of request by the Federal Court to the Royal Court of Jersey seeking that the Royal Court act in aid of and be auxiliary to the Federal Court in relation to the Rivkin bankruptcy. The purpose of the letter of request was to seek recognition of the bankruptcy by the Royal Court and obtain assistance in the recovery of funds held by Thameslink. The letter of request was issued and the Royal Court agreed to act in aid of and auxiliary to the Federal Court (Warner, in the matter of Rivkin [2007] FCA 2020). Subsequent investigations revealed that the Thameslink accounts held AUD$3 million, being the proceeds from the sale of Rivkin’s luxury motor vessel, the Dajoshadita. As Mr Warner was able to demonstrate to the Royal Court of Jersey that Rivkin was in fact the beneficial owner of the funds, the Court ultimately ordered that the funds held by Thameslink be paid over to the bankrupt estate for the benefit of creditors. That was particularly gratifying as the executors were not aware of the existence of Thameslink or the cash at bank following the sale of the vessel until Mr Warner had performed an in depth investigation into the affairs of Rivkin. The administration was a success for creditors and they were paid a dividend of 11 cents in the dollar on claims totalling AUD$26.68m.

 

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