Bux wind-up bid to be heard

The West Australian - - NEWS - Tim Clarke Le­gal Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

A bid to wind up a mo­bile phonebased money trans­fer busi­ness which has at­tracted $100 mil­lion in in­vest­ments — along with al­le­ga­tions of money laun­der­ing and ex­tor­tion — will be al­lowed to con­tinue, a Fed­eral Court judge has ruled.

Bux Global sold it­self to in­vestors with prom­ises to “im­prove the fi­nan­cial well­be­ing of the many” but a few of those in­vestors are now wor­ried the mil­lions of dol­lars they pumped into the firm may never be seen again.

The in­vestors in­clude for­mer world cham­pion boxer Danny Green and ex-Test crick­eter Greg Matthews but an­other — Queens­land busi­ness­man Peter Hooke — is now try­ing to have the com­pany wound up.

The ap­pli­ca­tion comes af­ter Mr Hooke made an ini­tial cash in­vest­ment of more than $1.5 mil­lion to Bux af­ter meet­ing chief spruiker Michael van Rens, pre­vi­ously a ma­jor fig­ure in the Fire­power fuel pill fraud that robbed many West Aus­tralians of their life sav­ings.

The in­vest­ment led Mr Hooke to have a share­hold­ing in an en­tity in Hong Kong, which was then trans­ferred to a share­hold­ing in Aus­tralia — with­out his agree­ment or knowl­edge.

But de­spite his not knowing he was a Bux share­holder, he was on the list — which he is now ar­gu­ing en­ti­tles him to have the com­pany wound up in a bid to re­coup his money.

In the Fed­eral Court in Perth yes­ter­day, lawyers for Bux ar­gued that while Mr Hooke might appear on a share reg­is­ter, he was not a “con­trib­u­tory” to the com­pany, and as such had no right to make the wind-up ap­pli­ca­tion.

But af­ter hear­ing more than two hours of ar­gu­ment — in­clud­ing from the Bux side cit­ing law dat­ing back more than 150 years — Judge Craig Colvin said Mr Hooke did have an ar­guable case, and that it should be ar­gued at a hear­ing sched­uled for later this year.

In his rul­ing, Judge Colvin also agreed that the cir­cuitous route which Mr Hooke came to have Bux shares was “un­usual”.

Dar­ren Jack­son, rep­re­sent­ing Mr Hooke, said the Bux claim was not just un­usual, it was un­law­ful.

“They should not be per­mit­ted to rely on their own un­law­ful con­duct to pre­vent a liq­uida­tor from com­ing in and sort­ing it out,” Mr Jack­son said.

The full Fed­eral Court hear­ing is sched­uled for July.

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