Tinkler pays league debt, tax deal tipped

NATHAN Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group (HSG)  has made good on its 2012 commitment of $300,000 in funding to the Newcastle Rugby League.

In another development, HSG is tipped to settle a $3.19 million Australian Taxation Office debt next week.

HSG’s financial obligation to the Newcastle Rugby League was one of the key components of the privatisation agreement signed in August 2011 when Mr Tinkler officially took control of the Knights.

The other major requirements were underwriting $10million in sponsorship, $2.5million in funding for junior development, and providing sufficient working capital for the day-to-day running of the National Rugby League club’s football and administrative operations.

Newcastle Rugby League chairman Trevor Crow confirmed on Tuesday the balance was deposited into the league’s bank account on December 21.

Although Mr Crow would not comment when asked how much was owed, the Newcastle Herald understands the final payment was more than $100,000.

HSG chief executive Troy Palmer did not return a text message from the Herald.

The ATO moved in the Federal Court on December 12 to liquidate eight companies linked to Mr Tinkler, including HSG, the Knights and Jets soccer club, seeking $3.19 million in unpaid tax.

Those matters are listed to be heard in the Federal Court in Sydney on February 20 and 22.

Mr Palmer told the Herald on December 16 that the ATO bill would be paid ‘‘in the next seven to 10 days’’.

That deadline has come and gone, but Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said last Friday that he anticipated the bill would be settled next week.

Even if the Tinkler camp can satisfy the ATO in relation to the court cases against HSG, the Knights and  the Jets, insolvency experts have indicated this may not be the end of the matter.

Under the laws that have allowed the tax office to take action, others owed money by the companies involved can step in as ‘‘petitioning creditors’’ to keep the court case alive.

Although no one is certain what will happen, the Herald understands the  threat will remain at least until the cases resume in the Federal Court in Sydney on February 20 and 22, even if the tax office is paid in the meantime.

An audit into the club’s 2012 financial operations was originally due on December 15, as specified in the deed of sale agreement signed by both parties in August 2011.

But HSG and the Knights Members Club agreed last month to move the audit reporting date from December 15 to January 21, and extend the $20 million bank guarantee underpinning the agreement from December 31 to January 31.

The guarantee will decrease to $10.3 million on January 31.

Mr Palmer told the Herald on December 16 that all milestones, which include the Newcastle Rugby League funding, would be met.

Meanwhile, Mr Tinkler’s embattled Patinack horse-racing empire suffered another setback on Monday when Racing Queensland stewards raided his training property at Canungra, south of Brisbane, after Patinack scratched all four of its runners at last Saturday’s Doomben meeting.

Racing Queensland stewards and a veterinary officer inspected the Canungra training base on Monday. Subsequently, Patinack will not field any Queensland-based runners until next week because of a broken water-walker and a dirty swimming pool requiring urgent maintenance.

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