Keppel Prince hit $1.6m following court case
KEPPEL Prince Engineering has had to repay more than $1.6 million after a Supreme Court judgement found against it in a long-running commercial court case.
The company has paid $1,604,908 to the liquidators of another Portland business, Noske Wind Energy Logistics Group, after the court found Keppel Prince had been unfairly paid the money in 2012.
Associate Justice John Efthim handed down his initial verdict on July 31, nearly three years after liquidators for the group filed an application in the Supreme Court, with a second decision as to the amount to be paid back delivered on September 27.
A trial took place in the Commercial Court over six days in November and December 2017.
It related to $1,235,001 of payments made to Keppel Prince in 2012 by Leighton Contracting, on behalf of Noske, for work done on the Macarthur Wind Farm project.
The extra money Keppel Prince has paid back is three years’ interest on the amount.
The liquidators of Noske, Nick Combis and Peter Dinoris of accountancy firm Vincents, claimed the money back as they said the payments represented unfair preferential payments when Noske was not in a position to pay its debts.
Noske was wound up on October 12, 2012 with debts of $4.5 million.
However, Keppel Prince was paid $300,001 on September 10, 2012, and a further $935,000 on October 10, two days before Noske was wound up.
The winding up application was filed by another company in the Queensland Supreme Court on the date of the first payment.
Noske entered into two contracts with Leighton in relation to the Macarthur wind farm project – one to transport, unload and erect wind tower sections from Keppel Prince and a site in South Australia to Macarthur, and another to transport components to the site from the Port of Portland.
In order to carry out the work, Noske used various other contractors, including Keppel Prince.
The court heard that Keppel Prince had frequently in the year or so before the winding-up chased Noske for late payment of invoices, with the latter saying it was waiting on being paid by Leighton.
A payment plan was entered into in April 2012 where Leighton would pay Keppel Prince and some other creditors directly.