Farming patriarch defends trading insolvent claim

A FARMING empire patriarch has responded to claims he and the company he was a director of traded while insolvent for 11 months.

Giatano (Guy) Barbera has vigorously disputed the allegations in papers lodged in the District Court this month in which he has asked for a judge only trial.

Mr Barbera and his company Barbera Holdings are being sued for more than half a million dollars by the liquidator of Barbera Transport for trading insolvent over an 11 month period.

Mr Barbera was the director of Barbera Transport, one of more than a dozen companies under his directorship, when it went into liquidation in February 2017 with debts of more than $800,000.

For almost 50 years the Barbera family have been farming in the Bundaberg region, but patriarch Giatano (Guy) has seen several of his companies face liquidation Photo: Robyne Cuerel.
For almost 50 years the Barbera family have been farming in the Bundaberg region, but patriarch Giatano (Guy) has seen several of his companies face liquidation Photo: Robyne Cuerel.

It was one of four companies of Mr Barbera's that has been placed in liquidation with alleged debts totalling more than $9 million.

Barbera Transport's liquidator John Goggin from Worrells lodged a claim against Mr Barbera and Barbera Holdings in the District Court on May 3.

The Barbera's have been farming zucchinis, capsicum and tomatoes in the Bundaberg region for almost 50 years.

The claim alleged Barbera Transport traded insolvent from March 2016 until it was wound up on February 2017 and also paid moneys from the sale of equipment and machinery to companies that were "not related to specific invoices".

The liquidator claimed Barbera Transport disposed of the majority of its plant and equipment in May 2016 and the proceeds were insufficient to enable the company meet all of its obligations.

Mr Barbera was also the director of Barbera Fresh (with debts of more than $5.7 million), IPG Global ($1 million) and Barbera Properties ($1.45 million) as well as Barbera Transport.

In Mr Barbera's response, part of his the defence included denying that Barbera Holdings was at all times the holding company.

It also stated that the company was not "insolvent at all times' and did not admit to incurring debts totalling $586,295.72.

Guy Barbera’s racing car driving son Mason has been a success in and out of the paddock. The 21-year-old runs M & R Farms while also holding down a career as promising Supercar driver. Picture: Supplied
Guy Barbera’s racing car driving son Mason has been a success in and out of the paddock. The 21-year-old runs M & R Farms while also holding down a career as promising Supercar driver. Picture: Supplied

Mr Barbera claimed that the company "was reliant on a farming enterprise with seasonal revenue" and "had a history of paying its creditors on extended terms that reflected seasonal income".

The liquidator claimed the company paid certain creditors round sum payments that were not related to specific invoices.

The payments included $40,000 to Barbera Fresh in May 2016 and two separate amounts of $80,000 and $29,000 to IPG Global in June 2016.

The debts totalling $586,295, that were allegedly incurred while trading insolvent, include $138,257 to the ATO, $19,066 to the Office of State Revenue and $421,615 to IPG Global.

It was also claimed that the company defaulted on repayment arrangements with the Australian Taxation Office on four occasions.

It also claimed the company defaulted on its obligations with the Queensland Office of State Revenue.

In Mr Goggin's reply on June 10 he claimed Mr Barbera became the sole shareholder in Barbera Transport in May 2012.

A trial date has not been set.