LIQUIDATED: Stirling Investments director Peter Bazzan (left) has cited embezzlement as a reason why the building company collapsed, but Karen Bazzan (right) has refuted many of the reports' claims of debt and amounts owed to Gympie businesses.
LIQUIDATED: Stirling Investments director Peter Bazzan (left) has cited embezzlement as a reason why the building company collapsed, but Karen Bazzan (right) has refuted many of the reports' claims of debt and amounts owed to Gympie businesses. LEEROY TODD

$6M BUILDER COLLAPSE: Ex-wife labels claims 'utter rubbish'

ALLEGATIONS of embezzlement and insolvent trading have been flagged as big reasons behind the collapse of Gympie builders Stirling Homes, which went under owing up to $6million to more than 130 creditors.

Liquidator reports lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission reveal Stirling Investments Qld and PRB Construction, each run by director Peter Ross Bazzan, had significant financial issues long before they were wound up last October.

Liquidator Gavin Moss said Stirling Investments may have been trading insolvent as early as June 30, 2016, and PRB Construction the year before that.

He cites embezzlement of funds, staffing issues and poor business management among the reasons given by Mr Bazzan for the companies' failure.

 

The deserted Stirling Homes display property on Premier Ave.
The deserted Stirling Homes display property on Premier Ave. Troy Jegers

Mr Moss said PRB may have also been affected by high cash use and limited trading profits after expenses, and failure to remit tax and superannuation liabilities to the tax office.

Stirling Investments had the same faults, he said, in addition to poor account control and record keeping, and the suspension of the company's building licence.

The PRB report identifies more than $1.1million in payments from the company "which appear to have been incurred for the benefit of the director's former spouse, Ms Karen Michelle Bazzan" and/or her associated businesses from August 29, 2017 to September 2018".

 

Stirling Homes director Peter Bazzan.
Stirling Homes director Peter Bazzan. Craig Warhurst

These may be deemed "uncommercial transactions" or "unreasonable director related transactions" and potentially recoverable, he said.

PRB Construction is identified as acting as a trustee for PRB Trust.

READ MORE ABOUT STIRLING HOMES' COLLAPSE

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* First glimpse at fallout from Stirling Homes' collapse

* STIRLING HOMES COLLAPSE: $1.4m owed to 107 businesses

The report said available information points to PRB and Karen Bazzan as the trust's beneficiaries.

Stirling Investments was also owed more than $2.4million in loans when it went under. These include $46,000 from Hampton and Harlow Equestrian, about $4900 each from Hampton and Harlow and Hair by Hampton, and more than $2000 from the Bazzan Superannuation Trust.

 

Karen Bazzan in 2013 with the Born Creative marketing Campaign of the Year award for Stirling Homes.
Karen Bazzan in 2013 with the Born Creative marketing Campaign of the Year award for Stirling Homes. Tanya Easterby

Ms Bazzan refuted the reports' debt and payment claims as "complete and utter rubbish".

She said she worked as an employee, has been separated from Mr Bazzan for more than a year, and was not involved with the company when it went into liquidation.

Of the loan claims, Ms Bazzan said Stirling Homes actually owed her money.

"None of these figures are remotely correct.

"I don't owe essentially anything.

"I am owed a lot.

"There's a lot of information in here that's wrong."

 

An unfinished Stirling Homes build.
An unfinished Stirling Homes build. Contributed

Ms Bazzan is reportedly owed more than $14,000 from Stirling Investments, the report said.

It was a situation which she said was only causing her and her businesses damage.

"When people want to report false, incorrect, misleading information, all that does is tarnish my reputation and my businesses in the town," she said.

"I've been slammed on every social media site... they're only going off untrue information that's been told to them so you can't blame these people when they're told this absolute rubbish."

She said many of the companies on the list had been paid by Stirling Investments before the company was put into liquidation by Mr Bazzan.

 

Twenty-two unfinished Stirling Homes builds are being completed with the help of the QBCC.
Twenty-two unfinished Stirling Homes builds are being completed with the help of the QBCC. Scott Kovacevic

"I don't feel these books from Stirling Homes had been reconciled for quite some time."

As of January 11, 2019 Stirling Investments is projected to owe $3.27million to 136 creditors.

This includes debts of $610,000 to the National Australia Bank, $399,000 to the tax office, $96,000 to Melco Mitre 10 Home and Trade and $85,000 to Danny Wheeler Concreting.

PRB Constructions is projected to owe $2.64million to 15 creditors.

Mr Bazzan told The Gympie Times yesterday the company had been working with a financial advisor to turn the business around.

 

The former Stirling Homes display home at Echelon.
The former Stirling Homes display home at Echelon. Scott Kovacevic

Liquidation became the only option once the Queensland Building and Construction Commission suspended his building licence, he said, and it was sad the situation had come to this.

"It's extremely unfortunate that somebody in a position of trust and financial control allowed company funds to be used for non-direct company dealings," he said. "It's terribly upsetting to see the people affected by this."

A spokesman for liquidators Chifley Advisory declined to comment further on the reports and liquidation for legal reasons.

Next week The Gympie Times and News Corp launches a campaign calling on the Federal Government to take action to protect subcontractors caught up in construction company collapses.

Gympie Times


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