RL’s links with referrer upset ICON directors

O’Brien Palmer’s Chris Palmer.

There’s nothing like being in business with your referrer to get an appointee offside with someone and at least some of those connected to ICON Construction (NSW) Pty Ltd (ICON) were recently in a flap about Chris Palmer.

Following the granting of consent orders in the NSW Supreme Court the O’Brien Palmer principal and colleague Liam Bailey replaced ICON administrator Ben Verney in the dying days of 2020.

The application seeking the incumbent’s removal had been brought by solicitor Michael O’Neill on behalf of certain ICON creditors who regarded the Greyhouse Partners principal from Victoria as being the director’s pick and insufficiently independent.

It’s a claim Verney rejects but as subsequent events detailed in Palmer and Bailey’s 530 supplementary report demonstrate, independence is in the eye of the appointor.

Since Palmer replaced Verney on December 28, 2020 the former has copped stick from ICON’s directors due to his relationship with O’Neill, and also quite possibly due to O’Neill’s representation of significant ICON creditors who’d probably not object to seeing the directors flayed.

The relationship in question is expressed through O’Neill and Palmer’s ownership interests in AMPAC Debt Recovery, which for transparency’s sake we disclose also advertises its services on iNO WHO, iNO’s digital insolvency services directory.

Along with O’Neill, Palmer’s a director in AMPAC and Ms Penelope Susan Palmer is sole director and shareholder of Petrochan Pty Ltd, one of AMPAC’s five owners.

Petrochan Pty Ltd lists its registered office as the same address as O’Brien Palmer’s Sydney office.

O’Neill was identified as the referrer in Palmer and Bailey’s DIRRI of February 8 and the link with O’Neill via AMPAC was fulsomely disclosed.

iNO asked Palmer if the relationship had also been disclosed to the court at the time he provided his consent to act as part of the application to remove Verney but no reply was received prior to publication.

Perhaps more relevantly, creditors clearly had fewer concerns about Palmer and O’Neill’s side hustle than they did with the directors’ DoCA, which they rejected in favour of a winding up at the reconvened second meeting yesterday.

While they were in an adversarial mood they also rejected Verney’s claim for $215,000 in remuneration, which included $10,000 incurred after he was replaced.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting Verney had declined Palmer and Bailey’s requests to transfer to them the $195,000-odd he’s holding in his administration account.

Instead he’s invoked his statutory and equitable lien in respect of his fees.

iNO understands that ICON directors are also challenging Verney’s claim to a $110,000 indemnity which he disclosed in his DIRRI back on November 6, 2020 as having been paid by the directors.

Apparently they wanted the cash back so they could divert it to the DoCA but the Melburnian demurred.

Palmer told iNO that the dispute over the indemnity was not at this stage at least an issue for he and Bailey, who as freshly appointed liquidators did get their fees approved yesterday so there’s no need to call AMPAC. Support INO’s continued chronicling of the insolvency sector.

Further reading:

Proof Of Debt Decisions Could Cost Victorian A VA

VA Verney Falls On Sword At 11th Hour

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