Legal challenge puts sale on hold

Kate MatthewsCountryman
The West logo

At the eleventh hour, one of the biggest clearing sales in the State was postponed after a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The Joyce family business, Connemara Holdings, made the complaint last week.

The action forced the receivers, McGrathNicol, who were appointed by NAB on March 2, to postpone the clearing sale set for May 7-9.

Ryan Joyce, son of Dennis and brother of Tristan, said the complaint contested the validity of the appointment of McGrathNicol, who were now locked out of the home property Connemara at Varley.

Mr Joyce said a ruling by FOS allowed the receivers to sell assets but no ruling was made on the occupation of land.

"The case is still open and we have 30 days to respond with new evidence which we plan to do," Mr Joyce said.

The Joyce family is believed to owe NAB $50 million as well as monies to other creditors.

McGrathNicol partner James Thackray said legal action in receival cases was a fairly regular occurrence.

"At the moment we are dealing with the legal challenge," he said. "The application that was made has been set aside, so while legally we are in possession of the property, we have some access issues."

A spokeswoman for the FOS said they were not able to comment on the detail of individual cases.

The timing now for the three-day sale in Karlgarin and Varley, which attracted interest from interstate and overseas buyers, is up in the air.

On Tuesday, Mr Thackray said it would be a number of weeks before it went ahead.

"As you can imagine, logistically it's a very large sale and requires the co-ordination of a large number of parties and a lot of resources," he said.

To run the clearing sale, McGrathNicol had appointed Elders Rural Services in Lake Grace.

They had in turn organised five auctioneers and some sporting clubs and other local groups to help with the set-up and catering.

But on Friday last week, Elders sent a text message and emails to clients saying that the clearing sale had been postponed due to a legal challenge.

Items due to be auctioned in the sale included seeding equipment, headers, tractors, trucks and trailers, grain handling equipment, silos, work utes, a plane, transportable accommodation, furniture and chemicals.

While the clearing sale is on hold, the latest deadline for the sale of 16,000-hectare Connemara farm also slipped past.

One of China's largest agricultural companies, Beidahuang Group, was due to pay $27 million for the property.

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