Terry Serepisos is flying to Zurich in a bid to save the Phoenix football team and four of his other companies – but Inland Revenue is pushing ahead with plans to liquidate them.
The IRD says it is owed more than $3.5 million in outstanding tax and penalties and wants to advertise its plans to liquidate the companies. Mr Serepisos applied to the High Court at Wellington to stop the advertisements, but a judge refused and the adverts are due to run in The Dominion Post tomorrow.
Justice Forrie Miller was told at an urgently arranged hearing on Friday that Mr Serepisos was going to Zurich this week to sign loan documents that would allow IRD and other creditors to be paid within three weeks, assuming various conditions were met.
However, Inland Revenue doubted Mr Serepisos would be able to meet the conditions.
A draft of the loan documents that 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.
Among the money the tax department is seeking to recoup is unpaid Phoenix players' PAYE and KiwiSaver contributions.
The Serepisos companies are: Century City Football, Century City Hunter Street, Century City Investments, Century City Developments and Century City Management.
The lawyer for the companies, Justin Toebes, had told the judge that advertising the liquidation bids could damage the funding process, particularly for Century City Football, which owns the Phoenix team licence to play in the A-league competition.
Insolvency was likely to mean the licence would be lost, Justice Miller was told.
However, the judge decided advertising of the liquidation application could go ahead. Delaying advertising often disadvantaged creditors generally, and unsecured creditors in particular, he said.
Wellington Phoenix head of marketing David Dome said Mr Serepisos was out of the country and could not be contacted. He could not say where he was or what the travel was related to.
Mr Serepisos had been talking to the IRD and the advertising was simply part of the department's "rules and regulations".
Questioned about the future of the Phoenix if its parent company went into liquidation, Mr Dome said he was not concerned.
A-League chief executive Lyall Gorman said he was in regular contact with Mr Serepisos and understood the matter was being treated as an absolute priority.
He had been told the IRD advertisements were triggered by time and the money owed would be "settled imminently".
"We have 100 per cent confidence that this matter will be resolved in a short matter of time ... we sit quite comfortable with the future of the Phoenix in all regards, including Terry's ongoing involvement with it."
Mr Gorman declined to comment about what would happen to the Phoenix if the company were put into liquidation. "We don't have a precedent for that and we won't have it in this case."
The IRD said it was unable to comment on individual taxpayers' affairs.
WHAT IS OWED
Century City Football
Owns the Phoenix football team
$1,527,415 debt, made up of:
$1,235,348 for PAYE tax deductions
$238,484 for GST
$53,483 for KiwiSaver employer and employee contributions
$100 for income tax
Century City Developments
$444,009, made up of:
$395,343 for PAYE tax deductions
$43,515 for KiwiSaver employer and employee contributions
$4667 for student loans
$327 for child support deductions
$107 for superannuation contribution
$50 for income tax penalties
Century City Hunter St
$804,061 for GST
Century City Management
$402,969 for GST
Century City Investments
$401,973 for GST
- © Fairfax NZ News
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