Aaron Drever chats with the staff at Fish and Chippery in Gray Lynn. Liquidator Gareth Hoole claims Drever helped negotiate the deal to buy the outlet.
A fish and chip company with ties to delisted real estate agent Aaron Drever is in liquidation and officials plan to refer allegations of potential wrongdoing to police and the official assignee.
The liquidators are trying to find more than $ 100,000 that was allegedly invested in three take-out companies by a wealthy Australian investor.
They also allege potential breaches of insolvency rules by Drever – an undischarged bankrupt – and are investigating whether the proceeds were split between different Eftpos machines and diverted to other bank accounts, according to a report from the liquidator.
Drever – who made millions of dollars selling homes in West Auckland before being stripped of his license for fault in 2016 – strenuously denies any wrongdoing.
He told the Herald that he did not run a business, broke insolvency rules, and did nothing wrong.
“I took nothing. The failures of this business have nothing to do with me.”
Company executives were “ultimately responsible” for the operation.
Drever is an undischarged bankrupt following the bankruptcy of his Grocer’s Market which was liquidated in 2018. He has been found personally liable for nearly half a million dollars.
The old “voice” of the Western Springs freeway has since been linked to several Auckland outlets of the Fish and Chippery fast food company.
Although Drever’s name does not appear in company records as a director or shareholder, the Herald understands that he was instrumental in the operation of the company, even spotted taking orders and looking after the fryer.
The liquidators called
Liquidator Gareth Hoole goes through the banking records of a company named Fish and Chip Co Ltd, which is owned by Bondi-based Andrew Guy Phillips.
Phillips previously owned the bankrupt Nosh grocery chain, which went into receivership in 2017 and owed millions of dollars to its creditors.
Hoole told the Herald he understands Phillips agreed to pay $ 80,000 last year to buy three fish and fry companies – One Tree Hill, Birkenhead and Gray Lynn.
The deal was brokered by Drever, Hoole said.
The listed directors of these three companies are Melissa Erin Wymer-Tisdale – Drever’s girlfriend – and Debra Jane Wymer – Wymer-Tisdale’s mother.
Hoole said a buy and sell agreement was drafted for the deal but was never signed.
Drever claims that the sale therefore never took place and Phillips was not entitled to any of the funds.
Hoole believed that after an initial injection of $ 10,000, Phillips invested more money in the business as payment for the purchase price, but became concerned about the financial situation and liquidated the business last month. .
“All he seemed to be doing was pouring money into this thing.
“The money seemed to be going the wrong way,” Hoole said.
Hoole said he was struggling to get the information needed for the liquidation process to make sense of what he described as a “pretty loose” financial arrangement.
“The papers are a bit thin.
“We’re trying to figure out where the money went.”
Based on his analysis so far, including evidence from financial records, Hoole said that in his opinion Drever “clearly had control of a bank card and bank accounts.”
And despite the fact that no buy-and-sell agreement was signed, Hoole said there was a “prima facie case” that Phillips bought the companies, given the money that he had been versed in business.
“What I can say is given the financial results that I have looked at so far, I have to wonder if all the money that has been taken has been deposited into the right company’s bank account.
“I would say Andy Phillips lost over $ 100,000 out of pocket.”
The One Tree Hill and Birkenhead stores were no longer trading, but Hoole believed that Drever still ran the Gray Lynn store.
In his view, Drever’s role in business has raised questions about possible violations of bankruptcy rules, which prevent undischarged bankrupts from running businesses.
Allegations of “Unauthorized Use of Company Funds”
A liquidator report obtained by the Herald indicates that Phillips “was led to believe he was buying very profitable businesses by a local entrepreneur, who claimed he was the authorized seller.”
Although the contract of sale and purchase and the promised leases did not take place, “the company [Fish and Chip Co Ltd] nevertheless honored the terms of the transaction “.
The report says the company experienced cash flow problems for a few months prior to the liquidation.
Phillips became “dissatisfied” with the management of the business and repeatedly had to commit extra money to cover losses.
“He was not satisfied with the explanations provided by the aforementioned entrepreneur who was involved in the day-to-day management and control of the business, and made the decision to put the business into liquidation,” the report said.
The liquidators said that after determining that the person who appeared to be running the company, Drever, was an undischarged bankrupt, they “will report this fact to the official assignee.”
They were also investigating Phillips’ concerns about “unauthorized use of company funds” and whether multiple Eftpos machines had been used “resulting in the splitting of cash receipts to different bank accounts.”
This would be reported to the police as evidence is gathered.
“It has nothing to do with me”
Drever said that although Phillips offered him a role, he had not run the companies and the liquidation process had “nothing to do with me.”
“Andrew Phillips tried to buy the companies. The deal was never done. There was no buy and sell agreement or any signed lease.
“At best, he had an operating license. They were going to sell it to him. This does not happen.
Drever said he made purchases on the company’s account for inventory and paid vendors to keep the business afloat.
But he denied making any profit from the business and “refuted” suggestions to split money between multiple Eftpos machines, which he described as a red herring.
He argued that takeout businesses were still owned by company executives.
“No authorization has been granted for [Phillips] to withdraw funds from the designated account.
“I understand that the administrators of these premises are preparing a statement of claim for the funds obtained by Fish and Chip Co Ltd without a signed sales and purchase contract.”
Drever also denied breaking bankruptcy rules.
“I wouldn’t be so stupid.
A lawyer acting for Phillips declined to comment.