Receiver facing fee and independence challenge

Independence can cost, particularly when someone questions it.
fees and independence issues dog receiver

Mackay Goodwin director Domenic Calabretta – embroiled in Cui family dispute.

Mackay Goodwin principal Domenic Calabretta may be overseas but that is not impeding the progress of some potential grief around an alleged lack of independence working its way towards him via a hearing in the NSW Supreme Court later this year.

The grief is in the form of untested allegations – which may or may not be frivolous and/or vexatious – that the fees charged for his fleeting stint as receiver of Gondon Five Pty Ltd and Cui Family Asset Management Pty Ltd might be a tad on the heavy side.

SiN emailed the man himself seeking his opinion of said allegations but was advised by auto-reply that he is overseas.

We then contacted the solicitor who had been acting for him – Thomas Russell of Piper Alderman – but he too was out of the office, specifically in New Zealand according to SiN’s sources. Foiled again.

So SiN played the family card, putting a call through to lawyer and brother Stefano Calabretta, to ask if he would be authorised to comment on the allegations which have been put before the court and which are to be bolstered with fresh evidence before the matter returns on August 7.

We figured Stefano would almost certainly know given he’s also a senior associate at Piper Alderman but regrettably he was not contactable either, an inconvenient state of affairs given the protagonists have also flagged to the court their intention to attack Calabretta’s independence, about which there is at this point no determinable doubt.

The grains of salt with which the allegations at the heart of this tale must be seasoned involve the protagonists – members of the Cui family who have fallen out and are manoeuvring to protect their interests in the family trust. One member was Calabretta’s appointor as receiver.

In the matter of Gondon Five Pty Ltd [2016] NSWSC 1401 Justice Paul Brereton provides an excellent breakdown of the trust’s assets and liabilities which also reveals how the Cuis have seemingly amassed a fortune through paint retailing, spring water and residential property development.

They also refer to overt hostilities and even legal expenses involved with defending an application for an apprehended violence order. Fractured families cast all manner of aspersions when the dispute gets that hot and collateral damage can almost be guaranteed so it cannot be surprising that some of the family members have chosen to fling some grief the former-receiver’s way.

Calebretta was appointed receiver of Gondon Five and Cui Family Asset Management Pty Ltd – which is the trustee of the family trust – on December 2 and resigned on December 23. SiN will know more next month but it seems an awfully short time to have one’s finger dipped in a bowl overflowing with assets requiring independent stewardship. Perhaps the broth just soured too soon.

About the Author

Peter Gosnell
Insolvency News Online illuminates the practice of insolvency Australia-wide, highlighting the triumphs and travails of the nation’s registered practitioners and the accounting and legal professionals who work with them. INO is produced by Peter Gosnell, former business editor and senior business reporter at The Daily Telegraph newspaper. During a decade-long career, your correspondent reported on such notable corporate collapses as HIH, One.Tel, Westpoint and Fincorp as well as some of the nation's highest profile bankruptcies and the investigations and prosecutions arising from Australia's most notorious instances of white-collar crime.

3 Comments on "Receiver facing fee and independence challenge"

  1. How about we look at the independence and fees charged by the untouchable big boy’s club re kords mentha, ppb etc, lets start by looking at network 10 administration, stop picking on the small fish because they are easy road kill…

    • Thanks for your comment Charlotte. Sydney Insolvency News has written extensively about fee and independence issues involving major firms like KordaMentha and PPB including in relation to Ten Network Holdings and will continue to do so while not ignoring those same issues when they involve smaller practices.

  2. I think it all needs looking at, good work.

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