Serepisos liquidation threat on hold

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2011

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The tax department has put on hold threats to liquidate five of football club owner and developer Terry Serepisos' companies.

Mr Serepisos said the Wellington Phoenix were here to stay in front of 12,718 fans at Westpac Stadium on Sunday. He made the promise after the team's 3-1 victory over North Queensland Fury in their last home game of the Aleague season.

It was reported last week that Mr Serepisos was going to Switzerland to sign loan documents that would allow him to pay more than $3.5 million in outstanding tax and penalties owed to Inland Revenue. Its move to liquidate his companies is now on hold.

His trip wasn't lost on Yellow Fever fans, who displayed a giant Swiss flag during the game, and sang rousing choruses of "We love you Terry, oh yes we do".

Phoenix head of commercial operations Nathan Greenham said no announcements on the Swiss funding would be made until "we're comfortable that the arrangements that have been made are locked in".

Among the money the tax department is seeking to recoup is unpaid Phoenix players' PAYE and KiwiSaver contributions. In a High Court at Wellington hearing on February 4, the department said a draft of loan documents it had seen contained a condition that the companies wanting the bailout be solvent at present.

Even with the loan, the repayment arrangement would depend on some creditors accepting a shortfall. Some had already agreed to accept less than they were owed, the judge was told.

At the hearing, Mr Serepisos unsuccessfully tried to block the IRD from running newspaper adverts saying it wanted to liquidate five companies in his Century City group.

Court proceedings to start liquidation proceedings were scheduled for Monday next week. However, a statutory requirement for adverts to be published at least five working days before the court date was not met by the tax department.

The IRD said it was unable to comment on individual taxpayers' affairs but confirmed that liquidation action was on hold.

The Serepisos companies under threat are Century City Hunter Street, Century City Investments, Century City Developments, Century City Management and Century City Football, which owns the Phoenix.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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