The tax man is moving to wind up NSW Air - the commercial arm of the Illawarra’s charitable Australian Aerial Patrol – over a $115,678 debt.
In documents lodged with the Federal Court of Australia earlier this month, the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation asks that the Albion Park-based pilot school and charter flight company be wound up in insolvency.
The matter will have its first airing in the Federal Court next week.
The deputy commissioner will ask the court to appoint a liquidator – BRI Ferrier director Geoffrey Granger – and will seek an order that costs of the liquidation process are paid out of NSW Air’s assets.
NSW Air was given 21 days to clear its tax debt in a March 14 notice.
The debt includes a $4336 superannuation guarantee charge, for the April 2015 quarter.
Australian Aerial Patrol general manager Harry Mitchell is NSW Air’s sole director. The patrol’s financials and their handling by Mr Mitchell in particular were scrutinised late last year by Ian Fargher, a University of Wollongong lecturer in forensic accounting investigation and former Assistant Commissioner of Taxation.
In a report commissioned by patrol board members, Mr Fargher detailed alleged corporate wrongdoing. Mr Mitchell has denied these allegations.
He questioned the structure of the business and charity and found management of the patrol’s finances was “confused with multiple bank accounts, many inter-entity transfers, ad-hoc personal loans, poor and in consistent notations leading to confusion as to business, charity and personal money”.
Mr Fargher found NSW Air Pty Ltd and Aero V – the patrol’s maintenance and repair arm - owed $142,521 and $47,501 to the Australian Taxation Office respectively.
He attempted to trace the dispersal of $750,000 received by the patrol as part-payment for NSW Air and Aero V.
The money came from pilot Bernhard Stevermuer. Police later charged Mr Stevermuer and deemed his deposit part of huge profits from a drug trafficking syndicate run by his associates.
There is no suggestion Mr Mitchell knew anything about the drug syndicate.
The patrol’s finances have piqued the interest of the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, Lake Illawarra police,the NSW Crime Commission and the Department of Fair Trading. The taxation matter goes to court June 8.