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Former wine and print entrepreneur fights bankruptcy

Sold: David James’s former business James Estate Wines at Pokolbin before the collapse of his print and wine companies in 2013. This week he is fighting bankruptcy action over $14 million owed to the ANZ Bank. HUNTER wineand print entrepreneur David James is in the Federal Court fighting bankruptcy action by creditors including the ANZ Bank after losing an attempt to delaythe bank from pursuing him for nearly $14 million.
Nanjing Night Net

On Tuesday NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Ball rejected Mr James’s attempt for a stay on a May 2014 consent judgment against him after the collapse of his companies in 2013, leading to the sale of assets including James Estate Wines at Pokolbin.

Justice Ball rejected Mr James’s argument the delay was necessary, based on aFederal Court application on Friday in which he will allege some of his companies suffered combined economic loss of more than $50 million after action by receivers. He will allege assets were undervalued and receivers took possession of property in a manner that meant they could no longer trade, Justice Ball noted.

In hisdecision on Tuesday JusticeBall said it was “plain” Mr James’s attempt to take action against receivers would require the leave of the court.

“It is equally plain that any amount recovered as a result of the claim will be for the benefit of the relevant companies and not Mr James personally,” Justice Ball said.

He noted Mr James’s submission that he had delayed legal action against receivers until recently because of anxiety and depression requiring a hospital stay for a number of weeks, but rejected that his illness meant he had been unable to settle the $14 million debt to the ANZ.

“It is plain from the guarantees that Mr James gave and the consent orders that he agreed to that he accepts that he owes ANZ the money it claims and that he agreed that he would not seek to deduct from that amount amounts he claimed were owing to him,” Justice Ball said.

Any action against receivers over the alleged handling of assets from Mr James’s former TLT Group could be more appropriately pursued by the group’s liquidators, the judge found.

Justice Ball noted there had been various attempts to bankrupt Mr James, including by the Commonwealth Bank and a previous attempt bythe ANZ Bank. The ANZ Bank’s filing of a creditors’ petition to bankrupt Mr James is being heard in the Federal Court on Thursday.

Mr James was ordered to pay the ANZ Bank’s costs.

Mr James’s James Estate Wines on 43.6 hectares at Pokolbin sold in December 2014.

In 2012 Mr James lost a Supreme Court case after the Australian Tax Office pursued him for almost$4.3 million in tax, interest and penalties.

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