Language of a colourful kind as rivals clash

Cor Cordis NSW partner Ozem Kassem. Image courtesy Cor Cordis.
Daniel Cvitanovic. Image courtesy Worrells.

Incendiary language, accusations of insufficient investigations and insinuations around related party proofs – according to its Minutes, the March 10, 2021 meeting of creditors of Ayash Pty Ltd had it all.

Steering the meeting towards a vote on a deed of company arrangement (DoCA) that day was Worrells partner Daniel Cvitanovic, who along with colleague Stephen Hundy had been appointed a voluntary administrator (VA) of the commercial kitchen supplier on February 3, 2021 after settlement negotiations with judgment debt creditor Central Fresh Fruit Pty Ltd (CFF) failed.

“Mr Kassem requested to call the director using explicit language. The Chairperson asked Mr Kassem to be mindful of his language.” Ayash Pty Ltd Meeting Minutes, March 10, 2021.

Attempting to steer the meeting toward a different outcome was Cor Cordis partner Ozem Kassem, who turned up at the meeting with CFF director Fady Hajjeh and a preparedness to speak plainly.

He told the meeting that Hajjeh had approached him to undertake a review of the VA’s appointment and then told Cvitanovic that having reviewed the VA’s March 1,2021 Report to Creditors he believed there were “issues based on the time and amount of investigations conducted by the VAs and (with) the solvency of the company”.

As such there had been insufficient investigations to justify the VAs’ recommendation that creditors vote in favour of the deed being propounded, Kassem said.

As Cvitanovic declined to roll over Kassem said he was “sick of playing games” and recommended the Chair adjourn the meeting and “do a proper job”. He then turned his ire on related parties and the former director, who Kassem said should “be the one in the firing line”.

Unfortunately for the irate Ozem, Cvitanovic replied when asked that neither the director or former director were in attendance, something that iNO understands then precipitated the discharge of a number of F bombs and detonation of a C device. Not that you would know from the Minutes.

“The Chairperson asked Mr Kassem to discuss the previous director. Mr Kassem discussed the circumstances of the CFF debt. Mr Kassem then asked if the director was present. The Chairperson confirmed he was not in attendance at the meeting. Mr Kassem requested to call the director using explicit language. The Chairperson asked Mr Kassem to be mindful of his language.”

In the end, despite the criticisms of the VAs investigations and alleged related party influence, the deed being proposed got up on the day, thanks in reality to NAB, which has doled out more than $5 million to the company and related entities, has yet to appoint a receiver, is no way restrained by the DoCA and abstained from voting.

Not that that was the end of it from CFF’s perspective, with Kassem advising the Meeting after the DoCA was accepted that the vote would be challenged. Proceedings have since commenced in the NSW Supreme Court. Support INO’s continued chronicling of the insolvency sector.

5 Comments on "Language of a colourful kind as rivals clash"

  1. James T Johnson | 21 May 2021 at 11:17 am | Reply

    I had thought that such conduct was the subject of some level or regulation and guidance in the ARITA Code of Professionals Conduct. In any event it would appear at the very least inappropriate.

  2. The Spanish One | 24 May 2021 at 3:14 pm | Reply

    What a pity the creditors got that exhibition of how the exclusive profession of Insolvency Practitioners behave.
    One wonders what information CFF had regarding the related party debts and whether it was provided to the VA’s, to be possibly useful in their investigation.
    It’s always better if the creditors constructively assist. Lots of loose language in a creditors meeting? Not so much.

    • Justin Sayers | 24 May 2021 at 8:29 pm | Reply

      I’ve seen competing liquidators have a dust up and physical fights at more than one creditor meeting. The profession has a rough and tumble reputation anyway.

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