Friday, 20 June 2014

Federal Court dismisses Fiorentino's CALDB challenge

Pino Fiorentino
PINO Fiorentino is facing cancellation of his liquidator's ticket after Justice Michael Wigney ruled yesterday that the Sydney-based insolvency practitioner had failed to convince the court he was denied procedural fairness by the Companies Auditors Liquidators Disciplinary Board (CALDB).

Fiorentino applied to the Federal Court on February 5 this year after CALDB had two days earlier refused his application to adjourn a hearing brought on by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

The corporate regulator wants CALDB to cancel Fiorentino's liquidator's registration over his handling of the insolvency of ERB International. Fiorentino has previously rejected ASIC's allegations. (See: Liquidator denies procuring proxies)

CALDB refused Fiorentino's adjournment application on the grounds that it had already adjourned the matter on several occasions since the first scheduled hearing of ASIC's application on October 21, 2013.

Further, Fiorentino wanted the adjournment so he could sue his professional indemnity insurance provider for refusing to fund the legal expenses associated with defending ASIC's application.

CALDB however was unwilling to accept that such an action would be concluded after six months - as was submitted by Fiorentino - or that further adjournments were justified.

"At the end of the day, the timing of hearings before the Board cannot depend on the vicissitudes of a respondent's private funding arrangements," CALDB said.

Page 13 of the Wigney judgement reveals that CALDB "has not yet made a decision in relation to ASIC's substantive application," the hearing of which concluded on February 6, 2014.

Given CALDB's oft-stated commitment to dealing expeditiously with matters brought before it, a decision may not be long in coming now Justice Wigney has published his reasons.

Fiorentino did not respond when contacted by SiN today so we are unable to report his reaction or whether he is considering other avenues of potential appeal. For detailed background see:

Liquidator denies procuring proxies

Insolvency veteran slapped with suspension

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Toppi seeking to bankrupt ex-bestie

Luxe Studios is now at 279 - 283 Liverpool Street
Photo: SiN Images
Paola Toppi's lawyers will appeal a judgement handed down in the Federal Circuit Court last week which further delays bankruptcy proceedings the Sydney restaurateur initiated last year against her former friend, the photographic agent Dolores Lavin.

Philip Beazley of Beazley Singleton Lawyers, confirmed yesterday that he will file an appeal on behalf of Toppi against the June 13, 2014 judgement of Nicholas Manousaridis.

The judge ruled last week that the period for compliance with a bankruptcy notice served on Lavin by Toppi and her husband Neil Cunningham on November 29, 2013 be extended for a fourth time to allow Lavin to make an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court.

Lavin is seeking to appeal the decision of the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal, which last month dismissed her application to have an earlier judgement ordering her to pay Toppi $871,016.56c overturned.

The earlier judgement, handed down on September 12, 2013, gave Toppi and Cunningham the green light to serve Lavin with the bankruptcy notice but
 by the time they did, Lavin had already filed an appeal. 

Since then, Lavin has applied to have the period for compliance with the bankruptcy notice extended three times while waiting for her appeal to be heard. In the course of obtaining extensions, Lavin has also won an order staying execution of the Supreme Court judgement. But the Court of Appeal dismissed her application on May 23, 2014. 

According to the Manousaridis judgement of June 13, the extensions in the notice compliance period have been essential in enabling Lavin to avoid committing an act of bankruptcy, an event which would potentially expose her to devastating loss.