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CREDITORS of EL Zorro Transport are believed to be owed well in excess of $10 million.
The rail company closed its doors early last month and was placed in external administration by El Zorro Transport director Ray Evans on June 14.
A creditors meeting was held in Melbourne last week, with the appointment of the administrator a central issue.
Reports from the meeting indicate Cargill is owed more than $6 million – with counter claims by El Zorro against the grain trader – Victorian Government rail authorities owed more than $3 million, Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia about $2 million, former employees $1.4 million and the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre more than $1 million.
One former employee, who did not wish to be named, said a string of country motels were owed an average of about $5000.
She said the list of creditors was "pages and pages and pages''.
She said some employees had not been paid for the last four weeks of their employment, time off in lieu, redundancy and annual leave, with claims as high as $90,000.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure confirmed government rail authorities were owed money by El Zorro Transport but said it was commercial in confidence.
Cargill spokesman Peter McBride told Weekly Times Nowthe grain company was owed $6.9 million through direct debt owed by El Zorro and leases for rail wagons Cargill had taken out with a third party – believed to be the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
"Cargill is disappointed with the way the meeting was conducted and the way the administrator adjudicated Cargill's claims,'' Mr McBride said.
"We are currently seeking legal advice regarding what options are open to Cargill as a result of the issues which arose out of the meeting.''
Creditors were told by the administrator El Zorro Transport made a $3.5 million loss in 2010, a $6.5 million loss in 2011 and $6.5 million last financial year.
Last Friday, Mr Evans appointed liquidators Con Kokkinos and Matthew Jess, of Worrells, to wind up related company Regional Port Enterprizes Pty Ltd.
A creditors' meeting has been called for next Tuesday to consider winding up the company.
RPE has debts of nearly $2.8 million, including $1.77 million owed to the Australian Taxation Office, about $223,000 to El Zorro Transport and $89,000 owed to Mr Evans.
Another company, RLG Pty Ltd, of which Mr Evans is co-director and part owner, is owed about $23,000.
The large majority of the creditors are former employees.
Australian Securities and Investment Commission documents show Regional Port Enterprizes (Aust) Pty Ltd and Railway Employment Co. Pty Ltd were set up on April 30 in the name of Mr Evans’ sister Pamela Lopez.
Mr Evans told Weekly Times Now a month ago if he had his time over again, he would run a rail operation as two separate companies – one for trading and the other to hold rail accreditation from Transport Safety Victoria.
Transport Safety Victoria said El Zorro Transport had advised the rail authority it would discontinue its rail operations in Victoria.
Weekly Times Now understands either Regional Port Enterprizes (Aust) Pty Ltd or Railway Employment Co. Pty Ltd has applied for rail accredition.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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