Federal Court winds up $135 million Point Cook Aviation Road land banking company

Federal Court winds up $135 million Point Cook Aviation Road land banking company
Federal Court winds up $135 million Point Cook Aviation Road land banking company

ASIC has successfully sought orders from the Federal Court to wind up the highly solvent Melbourne-based company Aviation 3030 Pty Ltd on the basis that there is a justifiable lack of confidence in the management of Aviation by its directors.

Aviation’s primary asset is property located at 756 Aviation Rd, Point Cook, which it purchased for $7.8 million in 2011 with a view to rezoning the property to increase its value.

In ordering that Aviation be wound up, Justice O’Callaghan stated the case that ASIC makes to wind up Aviation is an overwhelming one.

"Directors have issued to themselves and to their associates large numbers of shares at a gross undervalue; they have fabricated correspondence and invoices; they have provided false instructions to the company’s external solicitors; they duped and misled investors; they entered into related party loans; and they made unauthorised and exorbitant expenditures.

"The audacity of the March 2016 share issue alone could well be enough to warrant a winding up order, but it is not necessary to decide the case on that sole basis because of the many and varied ways that the directors have demonstrated that they are unfit to sit on the board of Aviation."

ASIC’s winding up application was opposed at trial by Aviation and its two majority shareholders (which were companies associated with the directors of Aviation) to which 63% of Aviation’s share capital was issued in March 2016.

ASIC’s application was supported, however, by a group of 12 minority investors who were granted leave to intervene in the proceeding.

The Federal Court also ordered the winding up of an unregistered managed investment scheme operated by Aviation through five separate trusts, as well as their trustee companies, which were also used to raise funds for the Aviation scheme.

John Lindholm and George Georges of Ferrier Hodgson were appointed as joint and several liquidators of Aviation, the Aviation scheme and associated entities.

The orders have been stayed for seven days to allow the defendants to consider an appeal.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said the orders made by the Court will allow an orderly and lawful winding up of the companies and the investment scheme they have operated and will place the future process of distribution of funds to investors into independent hands.

To facilitate the purchase and rezoning of the property, Aviation raised around $10.59 million from approximately 73 shareholders and unit holders.

Many investors in the trusts paid significantly less than $500,000 for their units, and were therefore retail clients rather than sophisticated investors.

In 2011 Aviation had entered into an agreement with auDirect Property Group Pty Ltd to provide project management services in relation to the Aviation land, for an annual fee of $120,000, plus reimbursement of costs. 

On 13 September 2012, the Aviation property was rezoned from Green Wedge Zone to Farming and significantly increased in value.

In March 2016, Aviation issued 63% of its share capital to companies associated with the directors of Aviation.

On 25 October 2018, the property at Point Cook was sold to Shanghai-based developer, Dahua for $135 million through Colliers International and Biggin & Scott Land. The purchaser paid Aviation a deposit of $27 million. The balance of $108 million is payable in April 2023.

Following an investigation, ASIC commenced proceedings in September 2018 to wind up Aviation, the trustee companies and the Aviation scheme.

The defendants resisted the making of the winding up orders primarily on several grounds, including the investors were only ever promised 1/240th an interest for every million shares.

ASIC first wrote to Aviation in December 2015 in relation to concerns about Aviation’s fundraising activities, and it commenced its formal investigation back in May 2016.

ASIC recommenced taking active steps in its investigation in August 2017 which included section 19 examinations, in addition to those which ASIC had previously conducted in 2016, including with Hakly Lao, Khay Taing, Huy Taing, Marintha Lao, Terry Grundy, Michael Bishop and Jenny You.

The investor group included the Deva Family Trust; JS Fotia Superfund; Harbourlink Wealth, as trustee for the Zou family; Sergio Valentino and Darryl Williams; Sang Aung; the Yuantong Family Trust; Heng Aung; Yoke Ngoh Wong and Jessie and Colin Luxton.

Tags: 
Asic Landbanking

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