Tinkler must find $4.5m

 NATHAN Tinkler will have to come up with more than $4.5million to keep control of a company at the heart of his Patinack Farm racing empire.

Liquidator Tony Matthews, who was appointed to Patinack Farm Administration on Wednesday, said Patinack’s 240 or so workers had been paid this week through another Tinkler company .

‘‘If we aren’t satisfied there’s a credible means of paying wages and tax and the rest of the on-costs then we will have no choice but to begin terminating the workforce from Monday,’’ Mr Matthews said.

He said paying workers this way was ‘‘quite unusual’’ and would probably need Federal Court approval.

Mr Matthews was appointed by the court after an application by the Workcover Corporation of South Australia.

The company – whose directors are Mr Tinkler and Troy Palmer – came up with most of the $18,000 owed to the Workcover Corporation and said the failure to pay was an accounting oversight.

But Mr Matthews said there would be ‘‘no talk of handing the company back to its directors’’ without creditors being paid 100¢ in the dollar.

Mr Matthews said the Australian Taxation Office was owed $4.4million – an amount that the Tinkler camp was not contesting – and Workcover Queensland was claiming $163,000.

He said investigating for insolvent trading was part of his duties as a liquidator.

Mr Matthews said about 50 Patinack workers had filled out ‘‘proof of debt’’ forms for their entitlements.

He said he had not talked to Mr Tinkler. However, he had spoken again yesterday with Mr Palmer, who is also chief executive of Hunter Sports Group, which owns the Newcastle Knights and Newcastle Jets.

Mr Matthews said Patinack Farm Administration was not the main company in the Tinkler racing empire and he was still searching through company records to determine the ultimate holding company.

Similarly, he would need to see how the company related to other companies in the Tinkler Group, especially given the proposal to pay the workers from outside the liquidated company.

As liquidator, he had a right to the company’s books and had asked it to hand over its financial records and a ‘‘ghosting’’, or digital copy, of its computer hard drives.

Company records show Patinack Farm Administration is a $1 company, with Mr Tinkler and Mr Palmer the two directors and Tinkler Group Holdings Pty Ltd the sole shareholder.

Mr Matthews said Patinack’s solicitors had raised the possibility of the directors regaining control of the company through Section 482 of the Corporations Act, which allows the court to hand back a company in liquidation if the directors satisfy certain requirements.

He said at this stage it was too early to say what would happen, and a detailed report on the company’s finances was still two to three weeks away.

‘‘If it’s anything other than a straight liquidation I will probably have to go back to the court to get its approval,’’ Mr Matthews said.

Mr Tinkler’s spokesman said there was no comment on yesterday’s negotiations with the liquidator.

 AAP reports: The racing manager for Nathan Tinkler has become the latest casualty of Patinack Farm’s decision to scale back its racetrack interests.

Robyn Hartney, a key Tinkler appointment when John Thompson took over the training of the Patinack Farm racing team in September 2009, is one of four employees of the once flourishing thoroughbred business who have left in the past week.

While more than 200 Patinack jobs were saved on Thursday when liquidators of Patinack Farm Administration came to an agreement with management, Hartney’s departure comes less than seven days after chief executive Peter Beer parted ways with Patinack Farm.

The company’s Randwick office, central to much of the decision making on the day-to-day running of its three-state racing operation, has been closed.

‘‘There have been a lot of changes made to the racing side of the business,’’ Hartney said.

‘‘The closure of the Randwick office is the latest in these changes and is part of the downsizing of Patinack’s racing presence.’’

In spite of the high-profile stable’s parlous financial state, Tinkler’s colours were carried to group 1 victory on All Too Hard and Nechita during the Melbourne spring carnival.

While the Melbourne arm of his stable has since closed, Tinkler’s Sydney yard produced two city winners from as many starters last weekend.

Hartney, who joined Patinack after working for leading trainer Gai Waterhouse, said she had nothing but admiration for the loyalty shown by Thompson and his Sydney stable employees.

‘‘I’ve had a fantastic time working with John,’’ she said. ‘‘And his staff have displayed so much professionalism in obviously what are very difficult circumstances.’’

Thompson revealed the extent of the financial strain on Tinkler’s racing operation after Nechita won the group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington earlier this month.

‘‘I’ve gone weeks without vets, farriers, bedding and ran out of feed a number of times,’’ he said.

Reports surfaced yesterday saying Racing NSW stewards had inspected Patinack Farm’s stables at Randwick racecourse to check on the welfare of the horses in work.

A Federal Court ruling on Wednesday against Patinack Farm Administration came just a day after another of Tinkler’s companies, Mulsanne Resources, was placed into liquidation.

OBLIVIOUS: Horses grazed on a Patinack Farm property in the Upper Hunter this week as liquidator Tony Matthews examined company records.

OBLIVIOUS: Horses grazed on a Patinack Farm property in the Upper Hunter this week as liquidator Tony Matthews examined company records.