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Tuesday, 17 August 1993
Page: 74

(Question No. 56)

Senator Ian Macdonald asked the Minister representing the Minister for Justice, upon notice, on 5 May 1993:

  (1) What is the current situation regarding the winding up of Quintex (sic) Limited.

  (2) Have the affairs of Mr Skase as a director of that company been fully investigated by the Australian Securities Commission (ASC): if so, what were the results of those investigations.

  (3) Have any charges been laid against Mr Skase: if so, what are they and when are they likely to be dealt with by the courts.

  (4) Have there been any complaints made to the ASC regarding the liquidation of the company Quintex (sic) Limited, or about the auditors or liquidators of the company: if so, what is the general nature of those complaints and what action has been taken in relation to those complaints.

Senator Bolkus —The Minister for Justice has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) Qintex Limited is currently in liquidation at the petition of creditors of the company. Mr Rex James Dwyer and Mr Richard Anthony Barber, of Messrs Price Waterhouse, were appointed as liquidators on 22 November 1990. The latest liquidator's account of receipts and payments in this liquidation was lodged on 1 December 1992 and showed that no amounts had been received or paid on account of Qintex Limited for the preceding 6 months.

  Receivers and managers have also been appointed to Qintex Australia Limited, a subsidiary of Qintex Limited. Mr D.A. Crawford and Mr J.G. Allpass of Messrs KPMG Peat Marwick were appointed as receivers and managers on 21 November 1989, at the petition of creditors.

  (2) The affairs of Mr Skase as Chairman of the Qintex Group of companies, including Qintex Limited and Qintex Australia Limited, have been investigated as part of the ASC investigation into the affairs of the Qintex Group and its officers, more particularly for the period from 1989 until its collapse.

  The investigation was begun by the National Companies and Securities Commission in November 1989 and continued by the ASC and has concentrated on breaches of directors' duties, financing dealings in own shares market manipulation and financial operations in relation to the Group.

  (3) As a result of the investigation, charges under the Companies (Queensland) Code have been laid against Mr Skase.

  Two charges under subsection 229(4) of the Companies (Queensland) Code were laid in the Southport Magistrates Court on 27 May 1991. The charges relate to a payment of $19 million by a Qintex subsidiary, IPH Finance Pty Limited, which ultimately was paid to Kahmea Investments Pty Limited. Mr Skase was arrested and released on bail in relation to these charges.

  Two indictments containing a further 32 charges were presented in the Brisbane District Court on 31 August 1992. Most of the charges allege offences by Mr Skase involving improper use of his position as an officer of IPH Finance Pty Limited in authorising various payments to Qintex Group Management Services Pty Limited to gain an advantage for Kahmea Investments Pty Limited or himself. The total amount of payments involved in these charges is alleged to be $7,448,213.

  A further charge alleges an offence by Mr Skase of not acting honestly in the discharge of his duties as an officer of IPH Finance Pty Limited by authorising payment of $2,850,000 to Qintex Group Management Services Pty Limited with intent to defraud IPH Finance Pty Limited.

  In addition, two counts on a second indictment allege Mr Skase was knowingly concerned in the giving of financial assistance by Qintex Australia Limited in connection with the acquisition by Kahmea Investments Pty limited of shares and convertible unsecured notes in Qintex Limited, the holding company of Qintex Australia Limited.

  Mr Skase has waived his right to a committal hearing and will be tried in the Queensland District Court on these two indictments. The trial was provisionally listed to commence on 23 August 1993, but because Mr Skase's medical condition precludes travel to Australia at present, it has now been listed to commence on 14 March 1994.

  The case will be mentioned in the District Court on 30 November 1993 to review the trial date pending further medical evidence being presented to the Court.

  The Magistrates Court charges are being held over pending determination of the matters before the District Court.

  (4) There have been no formal complaints made to the ASC regarding the liquidation of Qintex Limited. There have been no formal complaints made concerning the auditors or liquidators of Qintex Limited.

  However, various public enquiries about the conduct of the auditors and liquidators, such as in relation to action taken by the liquidators to recover from shareholders unpaid amounts on their Qintex Australia Limited shares, have been received by the ASC.

  The financial management systems and reporting by the Qintex Group, including the conduct of auditors of accounts, have been examined as part of the overall investigation by the ASC.