Tour group boss denies spending $2.5m on ‘personal expenses’
THE director of a failed Gold Coast tour company has denied spending $2.5 million of company funds on personal expenses and credit cards.
Bernhard Weibel appeared in the Federal Court in Brisbane yesterday for a public examination of Scenic Hinterland Day Tours (SHDT), which went into liquidation in September 2018.
The company, which operated tours to Springbrook National Park and other hot spots, collapsed owing close to $1 million, including $895,000 to the Australian Taxation Office.
Mr Weibel has been accused by liquidator Tim Michael, of KPMG, of causing an illegal phoenix by transferring the SHDT assets prior to its collapse to Scenic Hinterland Holdings, a company in which Mr Weibel is sole director.
Mr Weibel asked for the court to be closed to the public stating he did not want "sensitive financial information" disclosed. However, registrar Michael Buckingham rejected the request saying a "high threshold" must be met for a public examination to be closed.
Stratos Legal's Michael de Waard, representing Mr Michael, questioned Mr Weibel on $2.5 million of company funds that were paid to him and wife Tamara Weibel between 2014 and 2018.
Mr Weibel's taxable income during this period was $90,000 in 2014, declining to just $40,000 in 2018. "That does not add up to $2.5 million does it?" Mr de Waard asked.
"No. Because … the company never had a credit card so if the company needed to pay, as an example, fuel to the value of 'X' amount or vehicle registrations … the company expenses were on the credit card itself," Mr Weibel said.
"So that total you worked out of $2.5 million was not for personal use."
Mr de Waard said Mr Weibel's evidence was an "utter fabrication".
"Are you suggesting Tamara and myself have personally spent $2.5 million of company funds during that period?" Mr Weibel asked.
"Indeed I am," Mr de Waard replied.
Earlier Mrs Weibel, who said she was separating from her husband, gave evidence that Mr Weibel handled all of the financial and accounting side of SHDT.
"Bernhard has been doing all the business side on my behalf," she said.
"I signed paperwork trusting my husband is doing the right thing."
She said Mr Weibel had recently stopped making payments to her and she was surviving off income generated working for her family's Mt Tamborine business.
Mr de Waard asked her whether SHDT was paying the mortgage on the couple's $900,000 Varsity Lakes home.
"I disagree with that," she said. "I can only assume that the way you're saying it that is a bad thing and he did not do bad things."
The hearing was adjourned.