Barbera patriarch sued for alleged insolvent trading

The embattled patriarch of an established smallcrops business has another legal fight on his hands after a liquidator claims he traded insolvent for 11 months.

Giatano Barbera and his company Barbera Holdings are being sued for more than half a million dollars by the liquidator of Barbera Transport for trading insolvent over an 11 month period.

The Barbera's have been farming zucchinis, capsicum and tomatoes in the Bundaberg region for almost 50 years

Mr Barbera was the director of Barbera Transport, one of more than a dozen companies under his directorship, when it went into liquidation in February 2017 with debts of more than $800,000.

Embattled smallcrops patriarch Giatano Barbera is a director of 14 companies, some of which have been placed in liquidation. Pic: Courier-Mail
Embattled smallcrops patriarch Giatano Barbera is a director of 14 companies, some of which have been placed in liquidation. Pic: Courier-Mail

It was one of four companies of Mr Barbera's that has been placed in liquidation with alleged debts totalling more than $9 million.

He was the director of Barbera Fresh (with debts of more than $5.7 million), IPG Global ($1 million) and Barbera Properties ($1.45 million) and Barbera Transport.

Barbera Transport's liquidator John Goggin from Worrells lodged a claim against Mr Barbera and Barbera Holdings in the District Court on May 3.

The claim not only alleges that Barbera Transport traded insolvent from March 2016 until it was wound up on February 2017, but also paid monies from the sale of equipment and machinery to companies that were "not related to specific invoices".

The liquidator claimed Barbera Transport disposed of the majority of its plant and equipment in May 2016 and the proceeds were insufficient to enable the company meet all of its obligations.

"The company paid certain creditors round sum payments not related to specific invoices during the relevant period," he claimed.

Racing car driver Mason Barbera now runs his own farm, M & R Farms. He was the director of Barbera Family Farms, but he was replaced by his father in April amid a $1.1 million lawsuit. Pic: NewsCorp
Racing car driver Mason Barbera now runs his own farm, M & R Farms. He was the director of Barbera Family Farms, but he was replaced by his father in April amid a $1.1 million lawsuit. Pic: NewsCorp

The payments included $40,000 to Barbera Fresh in May 2016 and two separate amounts of $80,000 and $29,000 to IPG Global in June 2016.

The debts totalling $586,295, that were allegedly incurred while trading insolvent, include $138,257 to the ATO, $19,066 to the Office of State Revenue and $421,615 to IPG Global.

IPG Global went into liquidation last August and Barbera Fresh went into liquidation in the same month.

In a statutory report to creditors, lodged with ASIC last November, Barbera Fresh's liquidator Moira Carter from BRI Ferrier wrote under recovery actions that she identified "uncommercial transactions" and "phoenix activities interrelated company transactions".

In the legal action on behalf of Barbera Transport against Mr Barbera and Barbera Holdings for trading while insolvent, it's claimed that the company defaulted on re-payment arrangements with the Australian Taxation Office on four occasions.

It also claimed the company defaulted on its obligations with the Queensland Office of State Revenue.

Mr Barbera has 28 days to respond although he has another matter to attend to on Monday in the Supreme Court.

Barbara Farms, which was itself was wound up on April 11, is attempting to wind-up Barbera Family Farms which is now known as A.C.N 605 684 295 over a $1.1 million debt.

Mr Barbera's racing driver son Mason was the sole director of Barbera Family Farms until April 2 when, amid the million lawsuit, he was replaced by his father.

Mr Barbera declined to comment.



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