NATHAN Tinkler says that while his time as the Hunter’s best known coal baron may not have gone to plan, he is not regretful of his tenure owning the region’s two major sporting flagships.
Speaking to yourmoney.com.au, Tinkler denied any wrongdoing in the “appalling event” of ICAC’s Operation Spicer hearings and said the Knights had reverted to being “funded by Newcastle’s pokies players”.
He also maintained he had acted ethically throughout his career.
“I’m not like a lot of other coal people. I’m not in the Panama Papers and I don’t hide things overseas,” he told yourmoney.com.au.
“I’m a country boy that had a knack for coal. I’m not an accountant or a lawyer so hiding things – to my detriment – hasn’t been my forte.
“It’s tough. It takes a toll on family and friends. It makes it hard for even your employees to work for you and like you. The media has a massive impact.
“You try and help and support family as much as you can… at the end of the day I left myself with nothing.”
In August Mr Tinkler succeeded in having his 26-month bankruptcy annulled, with debts that in 2016 tallied $540 million officially regarded as settled.
While it has been unclear how much Mr Tinkler ultimately paid creditors in the annulment, the Newcastle Herald reported last February that he had unsuccessfully proposed a $1 million settlement in December 2017 that equated to offering less than 0.2 cents on the dollar to creditors.
Mr Tinkler said he was ambivalent about his record.
“I don’t know if regret’s the right word,” he said. “If [I hadn’t have] stepped in, the NRL would have taken the Knights licence, the FFA would have taken the [Jets] licence.”
“The main thing I’ve been doing [recently] is getting my bankruptcy annulled.
“[It was] probably my greatest achievement getting that done. [It’s] nice to get my name back instead of being called ‘the bankrupt’.”
On his next steps, Mr Tinkler was circumspect.
“People know I’m out there. People know I like coal,” he said.