ONE of the country’s biggest banks has been accused of orchestrating a “corporate manoeuvre” to squeeze out small businesses and ensure its debts were paid first when a Victorian-based business collapsed.
Labor Senator Doug Cameron has called on the National Australia Bank to come clean about its dealings with Walton Construction ahead of a Senate hearing into construction industry insolvency being held today.
“We have had allegations that the NAB was involved in a corporate manoeuvre to ensure that its debts were recovered in the Walton Construction insolvency in Queensland,” he said.
“NAB were looking at establishing some process to keep this company going that in reality resulted in many, many, hundreds if not thousands of small businesses losing every cent.
“We’ve got allegations that during the period NAB were seeking to do this corporate manoeuvre with Walton that small business were not being paid; that Walton was trading for a period of time up to about 15 months (while) insolvent and small businesses in Queensland and around that country have been the ones that have suffered.”
A NAB spokesman said the bank did not believe Walton Construction was insolvent.
“As we have repeatedly said NAB has acted in good faith at all times under the belief that all parties were working to keep Waltons operating so the company’s 120 employees could keep their jobs and the company could service their customers,” he said.
Speaking out ... Senator Doug Cameron has slammed the big four banks. Picture: Supplied.
NAB representatives are due to appear at a parliamentary hearing into insolvency in the construction industry in Canberra today.
Senator Cameron, who is the Shadow Minister for Human Services, said NAB must be “completely open about why it was dealing with a company when we have evidence that the company was trading while insolvent”.
“This is a significant problem in the industry,” he said.
“It seems to me that the big end of town looks after themselves in this area and that the small business are left to look after themselves.
“And they can’t do that very well when the power and control is with the big end of town.”
Walton Construction collapsed in late 2013, reportedly leaving behind debts worth millions of dollars.
It was one of Australia’s biggest private contractors.Author: KARA VICKERYSource: News Corp Australia Network