Ruttley-owned companies rack up tax and super debts

Companies controlled by Bob Ruttley have racked up a significant tax debt, while staff are also chasing superannuation entitlements

Ruttley-owned companies rack up tax and super debts
Ruttley-owned companies rack up tax and super debts
By Brad Gardner | October 14, 2011

Companies controlled by well-known trucking identity Bob Ruttley owe millions of dollars in unpaid tax, with staff also chasing superannuation entitlements.

According to documents of a creditors meeting on Ruttley-owned firm Kalae, which went into administration in July, Ruttley’s companies combined owe an estimated $3.763 million to the NSW Office of State Revenue.

Kalae, which was the holding company for Ruttley’s trucks, was earlier this year convicted and fined more than $290,000 in NSW after pleading guilty to 84 overloading breaches over a three-year period. A NSW court also ordered the company to fit weight monitoring devices to its trucks for a 12-month period.

Kalae went into administration on July 15 and creditors voted in August to wind-up the company. The NSW State Debt Recovery Office applied to wind-up Kalae in June but its application was dismissed in August.

A source involved in the Kalae matter says there is no point pursuing the business because its trucks are under finance.

"It’s a fruitless task. There’s no return to creditors. It has assets but they’re all subject to finance. There’s no surplus assets," the source says.

Kalae did not employ, and the $3.763 million payroll tax debt stems from other companies owned by Ruttley.

"Because it’s part of a group it’s a joint civil liability. Although Kalae in its own capacity never employed and never incurred payroll tax, because it’s part of that group everyone in that group is liable for that payroll tax," the source says.

Truck driver John Gillespie, who started working for Ruttley in February 2009, believes he is owed around $6,000 in superannuation. A letter to Gillespie from the ATO on September 7 confirms a debt. It is now trying to get the money. The letter lists Bolivia Employment Services as owing Gillespie superannuation.

"Our first approach is to obtain payment from your employer in full. Where this approach is not possible we will work with your employer to negotiate payment over time in a series of instalments," the letter reads.

Despite payslips showing the company was paying superannuation, Gillespie says rumours started to circulate in January this year among drivers that super was not being paid.

He rang his superannuation fund which told him it had not received payments, contradicting company claims.

"They [the company] said the payments had been made and everything was up to date. I started asking questions in February. I just trusted them," Gillespie says.

"I assumed it was being paid…and then I started hearing from other drivers, ‘we haven’t been paid super, there’s no super in our accounts’."

A report yesterday claimed Ruttley Freightlines had ceased trading after Toll ended its relationship with the business. Phones to Ruttley-operated premises in NSW and Queensland had been cut.

However, Ruttley – who has denied repeated requests to comment to ATN – phoned to say his business was still operating and had shifted premises. He declined to detail where the business was now based and refused further requests for comment.

While Toll is yet to respond to requests for comment, ATN understands there is a view within Ruttley Freightlines’ ranks the Herald report played a role in Toll cutting ties with it.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in July six Ruttley companies put into liquidation between February and August last year owed in excess of $33.6 million.

Ruttley made payments to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) of more than $2 million earlier this year to try and settle his superannuation obligations.

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