Nathan Tinkler was accused in a lawsuit of insolvent trading after the former mining billionaire failed to complete a share purchase in Blackwood Corp.
Liquidators of Tinkler’s former company Mulsanne Resources filed the suit today in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Sydney, Mitchell Hume of Citadel, a public relations company representing Blackwood, said in a phone interview. A copy of the application wasn’t immediately available from the court.
Tinkler, who testified in court in March that he’s living on an allowance that he gets from his wife who controls a A$1.4 billion ($1.4 billion) trust, had agreed in May 2011 to invest A$28.4 million in a share placement in Blackwood, a Brisbane-based coal company. Mulsanne failed to come up with the money, and Blackwood forced the company into liquidation in November in a bid to recoup the debt.
“If the court finds the directors and officers liable for insolvent trading, it may make compensation orders against them personally,” Patrick Sable, Blackwood’s company secretary, said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange today. “The liquidator has indicated that it will enforce the orders against any or all defendants.”
Tinkler was listed as one of three directors of Mulsanne in an Australian Securities and Investments Commission document. He knew Mulsanne had no assets when he made the offer for the Blackwood shares, Blackwood said. That amounts to insolvent trading, which is illegal in Australia.
“The directors of Mulsanne strongly deny any allegations of trading while insolvent and will strongly defend any legal action instigated by the liquidators,” said Tim Allerton, managing director at City Public Relations, who represents Tinkler.
The electrician-turned-entrepreneur, who owns about a fifth of the outstanding shares of Whitehaven Coal Ltd., was ranked as Australia’s youngest billionaire at the age of 35 by BRW magazine in 2011 after he sold his house in 2006 to help buy a A$30 million Middlemount coal lease in Queensland.
He sold the lease a year later to Macarthur Coal Ltd. for about A$465 million in cash and shares. He’s now struggling to meet creditors’ demands, with several of his companies having been threatened with liquidation for not paying debts and taxes.
Tinkler had blamed the commodity trader Noble Group Ltd. for the collapse of the Mulsanne-Blackwood deal. Noble failed to complete an agreement to buy his 75 percent stake in a royalty from the Middlemount coal project, valued at about A$25 million, Tinkler said.