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Australia Tax Office Steps Up Pressure on Tinkler

Australian authorities applied to liquidate eight companies of Nathan Tinkler including his sports teams. The mining magnate last month lost ownership of his jet and helicopter over unpaid debts.

Australia’s Deputy Commissioner of Taxation filed applications in the past two days to recover taxes owed by moving into liquidation the companies including Newcastle Jets Football Operations Pty and Newcastle Knights Pty, Tinkler’s soccer and rugby teams respectively.

“We are surprised by the move by the ATO as we have not received notification,” Hunter Sports Group Pty, the Tinkler-controlled owner of the Jets and Knights, said in a statement on the Football Federation Australia website. The company said the money will be repaid and “it is business as usual” at the Newcastle, New South Wales-based teams.

Tinkler owes as much as $700 million to lenders including Farallon Capital Partners, Credit Suisse Group AG and Kuok Group, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News last month. His creditors may seek to take control of his stake in Whitehaven Coal Ltd., worth about A$703 million ($742 million) at the current share price, if he fails to make payments on a loan, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.

The ATO filed six applications to liquidate Tinkler’s companies, including the sports teams, yesterday and two more today, according to court filings. The Sydney Morning Herald earlier reported some of the applications.

February Hearings

Hearings on the ATO applications are scheduled in the Federal Court of Australia for Feb. 20 and Feb. 22.

The ATO claims in court papers that it’s owed A$1.42 million by the Knights, A$1.06 million by the Jets, A$184,258 by Hunter Sports, A$524,226 by Hunter Valley Sports Group Pty, as well as A$111,535 by Buildev Development (QLD) Pty, A$162,164 by Buildev Group Pty, A$218,794 by BD (QLD) Project G075 Pty and A$132,103 by Buildev Aviation Pty.

The defendant failed to comply with a demand to pay the debt within 21 days of the request, the ATO said in all the applications. Hunter Sports Group was ordered to repay the taxes owed on Sept. 28, according to the court filing.

Tim Allerton of City Public Relations, a spokesman for Tinkler, declined to comment on the ATO application beyond the statement issued by the sports teams.

Tinkler lost ownership of his personal jet and helicopter after a financing company pushed TGHA Aviation Pty into receivership on Nov. 23.

Tinkler’s Mulsanne Resources Pty was ordered liquidated by a New South Wales state judicial officer on Nov. 20 after the company failed to pay A$28.4 million for shares in coal developer Blackwood Corp. His Patinack Farm Administration Pty was put in liquidation a day later by a federal judge in Adelaide over a debt to Workcover Corp. of South Australia.

The sports group case is Deputy Commissioner of Taxation v. Hunter Sports Group Pty. NSD2073/2012. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

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