NATHAN Tinkler companies yesterday began paying their debts – within hours of the Newcastle Herald revealing how a string of contractors were chasing money from the mining magnate. After two days of bad publicity about a string of debts that stretched from Scone to Queensland, creditors contacted the Herald yesterday to say they had received at least some payment as a result of the coverage.
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A spokesman for the mining magnate, estimated to be worth $915million, said last night that the companies had spent the past 24 hours ‘‘working towards’’ paying outstanding debts.
What he did not say was why it took until now to pay creditors who, in some cases, had waited at least a year.
‘‘The vast majority have been paid in the past 24 hours, which makes your stories redundant,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘All the people named in your stories were paid.’’
The Herald reported yesterday that dozens of businesses were chasing outstanding debts of more than $1million from Hunter-based Tinkler companies including Newcastle builder Bolkm, a member of the Buildev Group, and racing company Patinack Farm.
Creditor Bob Jeffkins, who employed a debt collector to chase the $17,000 he was owed, was in disbelief last night.
‘‘Half a dozen people rang me to say they got their money through – if the paper had not done a story it never would have happened,’’ he said.
‘‘They have strung everybody out to the nth degree and it’s made things bloody hard for a lot of people who have suffered a lot of hardship.
‘‘I just wish we had gone public with this whole mess a long time ago because they obviously don’t like the way it looks.’’
Roofer Rob Atherton said he was paid $15,000 this week, but was still owed more than $30,000.
‘‘I just want what they owe me, it’s as simple as that,’’ he said. ‘‘‘I’m going to be contacting my solicitor about chasing the rest.
‘‘It’s pretty amazing how one minute they don’t have the money and the next they do.’’
The $15,000 was outstanding for work done on a $3.2million operations centre for Newcastle Port Corporation.
The Newcastle Herald had received complaints about money owed on this contract, as well as an $800,000 amenities job at Newcastle Airport.
Port corporation chief executive Gary Webb and airport spokesman David Nye both said their organisations had paid Bolkm after receiving statutory declarations it had paid its subcontractors.
Mr Webb said he was waiting on a final invoice and statutory declaration from Bolkm to allow the corporation to pay the last $50,000 on the harbour project.
Mr Nye said Bolkm had been paid all but $10,000 on the airport job.
But creditor Stephen Hamer, of North Coast Marble and Granite, said he did not receive a cent of the $26,000 Bolkm owed him on the airport project until last week when he took legal action.
Mr Tinkler’s spokesman said the companies had received ‘‘overwhelming support’’ from creditors who were being paid, ‘‘albeit some of them late’’.
He said times were tough in the building industry and late payment was better than no payment, which happened in many cases when firms folded.
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