Intercoast investigation to wrap up next month

Liquidator of Intercoast Refrigerated Transport expects investigation to finish next month and says "significant financial problems" led to company’s downfall

Intercoast investigation to wrap up next month
Intercoast investigation to wrap up next month
By Brad Gardner | August 9, 2012

The liquidator of Intercoast Refrigerated Transport expects his investigation into the running of the company to wrap up next month.

Peter Marsden from RSM Bird Cameron Chartered Accountants was appointed liquidator of Anthony Morfea’s trucking firm on December 5, 2011 after the company voluntarily appointed PKF Chartered Accounts as receivers and managers.

While declining to divulge too many details of the investigation, Marsden says "it’s probably not too far away" from being completed and a report handed to the corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

"We’ve got an obligation to report to ASIC in the next month or so. That will be done and finalised and reported to them," Marsden told ATN in a brief interview.

Although a New South Wales court stung Intercoast with an $80,000 fine and ordered it to fit weigh devices to its trucks after the company pleaded guilty to overloading offences in May last year, Marsden says it wasn’t the cause of the company’s demise.

"That wasn’t the reason that it failed, but it could have been a contributing factor in the extent that it ran out of money, it went broke. It had some significant financial problems," he says.

"They owed a lot of money to Westpac as the financier. A lot of that related to leases of trucks and that sort of gear as well."

Intercoast also used a similar funding model as 1st Fleet, which went bust earlier this year after its debtor funder Coface pulled out of the Australian market.

"They had a debtor finance facility as well. Different circumstances [to 1st Fleet] but some of the structure around it in terms of the financing was similar. Nowhere near as big, but similar types of issues," Marsden says.

Intercoast and Morfea were recently found to have breached workplace laws over the death of a company truck driver in November 2008. The Industrial Court of NSW has not yet ruled on costs, but it is unlikely any money will be left over once Intercoast has been liquidated.

"The issue on costs will be irrelevant because there’s no money. It’ll just be an unsecured claim," Marsden says.

He says creditors are also unlikely to receive a dividend.

Morfea opened the NSW-based Intercoast in 1989 and ran an extensive refrigerated operation focused on produce, dairy, confectionery and frozen goods. It ran a network of cold stores and delivered freight intrastate and interstate.

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), now known as the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), prosecuted Intercoast last year for overloading offences committed over a two-year period.

Despite targeting the firm under chain of responsibility law, the RTA did not lay any charges against consignors or consignees.

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