07/05/2002 - 22:00

Tax office pursues Scook for $80,000

07/05/2002 - 22:00

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THE Australian Taxation Office is pursuing entrepreneur Dean Scook for almost $80,000 over income and provisional tax liabilities dating back to 1996.

Tax office pursues Scook for $80,000

THE Australian Taxation Office is pursuing entrepreneur Dean Scook for almost $80,000 over income and provisional tax liabilities dating back to 1996.

According to a writ lodged at the Perth District Court, the tax office action against Mr Scook, which includes heavy penalties, is for around $72,000 in income tax debts from 1996-98 and almost $8000 in provisional tax for 1999.

Mr Scook is best known in the business community as a former director of Perth towing venture Mobi Tow.

The ATO legal action coincides with positive events at one of Mr Scook’s major investments, Tuart Resources, which won shareholder approval to raise up to $10 million needed to refinance the vineyard operations the company bought last year through a deal involving the Perth businessman.

That acquisition by Tuart of the Nelson Ridge wine group has been haunted by its own tax problems.

It is unclear if the ATO writ is in any way connected with Mr Scook’s dealings with the Nelson Ridge group, which includes the 250-hectare Preston Vale vineyard and 64-hectare Diamond Ridge vineyard at Donnybrook, or the financial mess that followed the Tuart acquisition.

Calls to Tuart managing director Bob Hendrie were referred to Mr Scook, but WA Business News was unable to reach him for comment.

Less than a year after listing as a minerals exploration company, Tuart bought the Nelson Ridge group in a $37.5 million deal in February 2001 that left Mr Scook as a major Tuart shareholder, according to the company’s latest ASX Top 20 notice.

At the time of the deal, Tuart took charge of more than 80 million of its own shares and 40 million of its own options under an agreement with Mr Scook and his business partner, Carol Hardie, that they would indemnify the company against net liabilities of about $4.6 million.

Last year, Tuart moved to enforce those indemnities, taking legal action for as much as $14.6 million at one stage.

Those legal actions have since been reviewed and a decision has been made to pursue some of the advisers who acted on the deal.

Two companies connected to the Nelson Ridge group have been placed in the hands of administrators or receivers.

Hoping for new investors and current shareholders to financially back the funding proposal, Tuart has had some good news for the market, particularly its grape sales to such top wine names as Evans & Tate and Alkoomi.

But the company has also attracted the attention of the Australian Stock Exchange, which issued a notice on Monday querying Tuart’s ability to fund itself through the current quarter.

Tuart chairman and a founder of the Preston Vale vineyard project, Martin Bennett, confirmed to the ASX this week that, without raising new funds, the company would have insufficient cash to fund the activities of the company and its subsidiaries for less than one quarter.

All this has forced Tuart away from the minerals focus it floated with in 2000.

Even the news of Mt Gibson’s purchase of the Kingstream iron ore assets has failed to revive this side of the business.

Last year, Mr Scook and others with an apparent interest in Tuart, were claiming that Brian Johnson’s Mt Gibson Iron would provide a catalyst for the development of Tuart’s manganese assets, with both companies potentially able to implement share stripping arrangements.

This year, however, Tuart’s share of manganese resources at Peak Hill near Meekatharra is reportedly on the market.

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