Sinking ship refloated
A MURRAY Owen-owned and operated marine engineering company with a history of failures is trying to get back into business in Brisbane.
AQUEENSLAND marine industry player with a history of company failures is trying to get back into business in Brisbane.
Marine Engineering Consultants Pty Ltd, which was owned and operated by Murray Owen (illustrated) at the Gold Coast City Marina for nearly 20 years, went bust in late November after numerous creditors sought court orders for its wind up.
Liquidator Chris Baskerville determined that the firm, which traded as MEC Yachts, collapsed with $7.85m in debts and may have been insolvent since August 2019.
In a recent report to creditors, Baskerville said the company was in the process of building a 12m aluminium catamaran for the owners of the Heron Island resort but the vessel was relocated to a Brisbane boatyard just before his appointment.
“My preliminary view is this vessel was moved so that the director (Owen) could continue to work on the vessel under a different entity,’’ the report said.
Sure enough, records show that Owen has an intact entity, MEC
Brisbane Pty Ltd, which changed its name from MEC Whitsundays Pty Ltd just three days after Baskerville was appointed. That’s not all. Baskerville told City Beat this week that he is actively investigating the fact that the still-trading company is now the third incarnation of the MEC business.
In addition, Baskerville flagged possible court action against Owen to recover more than $2m and, as part of that, said he may seek to subject him to a public examination.
Among the money sought is an outstanding loan of $757,829 that Owen allegedly owes the failed company but has declined to pay back since December, Baskerville said.
He’s also hoping to claw back about $360,000 in related party transactions and another $380,000 in unfair preference payments.
His report reveals that an independent expert has been retained to produce a formal
insolven cy study, with a potential $1.1m or more to be recouped if an insolvent trading claim can be made.
The report also found that the business had a negative net asset position every year since 2016 and total liabilities more than doubled over that time to $4.6m.
Baskerville described Owen as “completely uncooperative’’ and noted that, after representatives from his office were initially barred from accessing his Gold Coast marina office, he had to post security guards there.
“Our investigations are ongoing and this will probably take a couple of years to resolve,’’ he told us.
In an odd twist, one of the creditors, Reel Action Sports Fishing Pty Ltd, has sued Baskerville to retrieve a halfbuilt shell of a vessel in his possession.
That firm, formerly known as Bribie Island Charters, had ordered a 17m catamaran in a near $2m contract in 2017.
Baskerville is defending that case in the Brisbane Supreme Court.
Owen, who resides in a $2m home acquired on Hope Island in 2017, did not return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.
Records reveal he and his missus also still own an industrial property in the Gold Coast marine precinct bought for $1.2m in 2013. Before the latest debacle, another Owen company, Mjowen Pty Ltd, collapsed in 2017 owing $1.43m, including nearly $815,000 to unsecured creditors.