Control of a Gibbston Valley water supply has been wrestled from a company associated with bankrupt property developer Dave “Hendo” Henderson.
A High Court judge has backed a controversial liquidator’s fight to get control of shares in the company which provides the supply, plus the unusual move to dismiss Hendo’s wife Kristina Buxton as a company director and replace her with long-time Gibbston resident and former cabinet minister Denis Marshall.
Hendo, a former high-flyer, was the man behind the Five Mile development at Frankton – and the resulting “Hendo’s hole” eyesore – who was bankrupted for a second time in 2010 with debts of more than $140 million.
He controlled a Gibbston water supply through a company called Gibbston Water Services (GWS), which was part of his former Anthem wine empire.
A water feud erupted in 2009 when GWS reportedly demanded payments as high as $1000 a week from some Gibbston residents.
When a number of houses were apparently cut from the supply in 2011 – which Hendo described at the time as illegal connections – public health officials waded in.
But Gibbston residents might soon have a chance to buy the scheme.
In a July 11 judgment, seen by Mountain Scene, Justice Cameron Mander backs Gibbston Water Holdings liquidator Robert Walker’s moves to snare shares in the company back from the Hendo-related Castlereagh Properties.
The recent legal battle centred on the August 2011 transfer of GWS’s shares, for $1, between two Hendo-related companies – Gibbston Water Holdings Ltd and Castlereagh Properties.
Mander backed Walker’s move to reverse the transaction, saying the GWS shares had some value and even though Marshall’s appointment was rare, “if not unique”, he called it a “legitimate precaution.”
Walker was also awarded costs.
Hendo’s lawyer, Jai Moss, argued the company was running at a loss and had more debts than assets. That’s based on a series of annual accounts that were signed off in May of this year.
Moss also argued Walker went beyond his powers as liquidator by trying to reverse the transaction and appoint Marshall.
And if you think the Gibbston Valley water fight was bitter, it’s got nothing on Hendo’s battle with Walker.
Walker was hauled before an accountants’ standards committee earlier this year after he was caught on a secretly recorded phone conversation calling Hendo a “little bastard” and a “buffoon”.
He was ordered to pay costs over the incident.
In Mander’s judgment, Walker was accused of having a beef against Hendo – and admitted calling him “demonic”.
While not excusing his lingo, the judge said the liquidator’s actions were reasonable.