Fitness model sued over farming business debt

AN Italian World Beauty Fitness and Fashion model is being sued for more than $220,000 over her involvement as director of a farming family business that went into liquidation.

Courtney Barbera, who is the daughter of embattled Bundaberg farming patriarch Giatano (Guy) Barbera, has been named as one of two defendants in papers lodged by Lencrow Forklifts in the Brisbane District Court.

Sydney-based Lencrow Forklifts, formerly known as Hi-Lift Materials Handling, is pursuing $207,192 in unpaid hire fees and a further $19,918.80 in repairs to damaged equipment plus costs.

Courtney Barbera was runner-up in the bikini section of the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion event in Italy late last year. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
Courtney Barbera was runner-up in the bikini section of the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion event in Italy late last year. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail

It named Ms Barbera and Sydney businessman Matt Maley as defendants.

They were either sole or joint directors of Barbera Farms which went into liquidation with debts of more than $1.4 million in April.

The statement of claim against Ms Barbera and Mr Maley says Lencrow Forklifts was a customer of Barbera Farms and had entered an agreement "for the supply of material equipment on credit" for five years.

It claimed Ms Barbera and Mr Maley jointly agreed to the "payment of all debts now due or to come due" … and that each was "jointly and severally liable".

Ms Barbera was the director of Barbera Farms from its inception on February 9, 2017 until July 2018.

Mr Mr Maley was a director from May 12, 2017 until the company was wound-up on April 11.

Ms Barbera said Mr Maley was the driving force for the company at the time.

Courtney Barbera said the claim made against her and Mr Maley, that they owed more than $220,000, was “without merit” as pictured in social media posts. Photo: supplied
Courtney Barbera said the claim made against her and Mr Maley, that they owed more than $220,000, was “without merit” as pictured in social media posts. Photo: supplied

"We believe that he will be seeking more information as the claim appears to be without merit," Ms Barbera said in a statement.

"Once that information has been received, we will have a better understanding as to what each party is alleging."

Mr Maley said he was to speak with Ms Barbera and would be seeking more information from Lencrow Forklifts.

"I haven't spoken to Courtney about the matter. Courtney originally signed the documents and I signed them thereafter and I'll be in contact with Lencrow to know more," Mr Maley told The Courier-Mail.

ASIC documents show Ms Barbera remained the sole shareholder when it was wound up.

Ms Barbera, 24, was the runner-up in the bikini section of the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Spectacular in Verona, Italy, in December and has more than 42,000 Instagram followers.

Giatano (Guy) Barbera has disputed a claim that he and his company Barbera Holdings traded insolvent. Pic: Robyne Cuerel
Giatano (Guy) Barbera has disputed a claim that he and his company Barbera Holdings traded insolvent. Pic: Robyne Cuerel

The revelation that Ms Barbera was being personally sued follows a number of legal battles her father is facing over the liquidation of several companies tied to the family name.

Mr Barbera and his company Barbera Holdings are also being sued for more than half a million dollars for allegedly trading insolvent, a claim which he has vigorously disputed in papers lodged with the District Court in June.

The Barberas have been farming zucchinis, capsicum and tomatoes in the Bundaberg region for almost 50 years, currently operating under M&R Farms.

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.

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



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