Massive bill leaves Kondinin farmer with just $3

Exclusive, Shane WrightThe West Australian

A WA farmer was left with just $3 after his life’s assets were sold by bank-appointed administrators who made more than half a million dollars from their work.

Documents released to a Senate committee by restructuring and investment firm KordaMentha reveal for the first time the extent of costs out of the financial troubles of Kondinin farmer Peter Repacholi.

The Senate committee — which has urged the Federal Government’s banking royal commission, which starts next year, to look at cases such as Mr Repacholi’s — received documents from KordaMentha about how much it charged to wind up the Kondinin property.

Mr Repacholi lost his 4000ha property in 2014 on the back of a $3.5 million debt to Bankwest.

The Repacholi case was a focus of the recent Senate committee because of concerns about Bankwest’s actions, its treatment of the family and KordaMentha’s fees.

The documents, finally released after questioning from One Nation senator Peter Georgiou, show $805,953 was realised when livestock and crops were sold between November 2013 and late 2014.

But the same documents show just $3 was left over from the sales.

Almost $324,000 was charged in legal fees, another $235,000 in “appointee fees” and $87,462 went towards “other property expenses”. In evidence to the initial inquiry, company partner Mark Mentha said the entire case had been “sensitive” because of personal threats made to his staff.

Senator Georgiou said the revelation of the costs to bring the property to sale, and the small amount of money left over after the process, illustrated the lack of protections for farmers from the banking sector.

“I find it incredible that bank-appointed receivers can charge this level of fees and that farmers are left powerless when it happens,” he said.

“The banks are involved and know what’s going on and they ignore it, the regulators are often powerless to help and it all happens under a veil of secrecy.”

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