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Wine deal leaves hangover

MINING group turned wine investor Tuart Resources is dealing with a $200,000 hangover from its February purchase of Nelson Ridge, the company behind WA’s biggest vineyard development.

While Tuart has been claiming exploration success at its Cashmere Downs nickel prospect, behind the scenes the explorer has been bickering with interests associated with Dean Scook and Carol Hardie over the fine print in the $37.5 million Nelson Ridge purchase agreement.

Nelson Ridge brought 267 hectares of planted land into Tuart in the deal, including the 200ha Preston Vale project, WA’s biggest single completed vineyard, situated near Donnybrook.

This week, Mr Scook told Business News the issue had arisen over differences in interpretation of an indemnity clause inserted into the agreement for Nelson Ridge’s reverse takeover of Tuart.

He said the argument, which he hoped to have settled shortly, was over whether or not some creditors should be included as part of the indemnity clause.

“We say the indemnity is there to cover issues which were not disclosed, if we tried to deceive them,” Mr Scook said.

“They disagree. It is $200,000 or something, so it is not a huge issue.”

He said the matter was unrelated to a number of legal actions started recently against him, including writs issued by several members of the Shadbolt family from Mukinbudin, a company called Newholme Nominees and a third action started by Stanley and Erica Matthews with John Woital.

Tuart spokesman Mark Babidge, who was part of the original team responsible for forming Preston Vale along with Mr Scook, played down the significance of the matter.

“They can’t get the shares released under the agreement until they pay their money,” Mr Babidge said.

“It is a mechanical thing, it is a bit like getting your last notice before you get cut off, then you pay it.”

Under the Tuart-Nelson Ridge deal, Mr Scook and Ms Hardie, along with several companies associated with them, provided an indemnity to Tuart over net liabilities totalling $4.6 million.

According to its prospectus issued in February, Tuart took a charge over 80 million of its own shares and 40 million options as security in the event the indemnifiers failed to pay out the liabilities.

Mr Scook also said the indemnity issue was unrelated to around $500,000 in defaulting payments from investors who were financed by failed finance broker Knightsbridge Finance or its associate Westralian Capital Holdings.

“During this period of time (after June 30 last year) when Knightsbridge was having the trouble it has had you would have to say the company probably had not gone out and tried to collect the money that is owed in the manner perhaps they should have,” he said.

Mr Scook said that companies involved in the establishment of Preston Vale vineyard had appointed law firm Bennett & Co to collect money that is due.

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