A $700,000 loan from Whirlwind Print to print management company The Printing Hub, also owned by the Cester family, is on the liquidator’s hit-list as they try to claw back some of the multiple millions of dollars owed when the trade printer crashed in May.
The amount loaned by the now-failed Whirlwind Print began to accrue from when the family decided to purchase The Printing Hub in 2010.
When Whirlwind Print was put in liquidation on May 28, 2019 with debts of $4.9m the loan had not been repaid and was not listed as an incoming receivable due to the business.
The Printing Hub is based in Melbourne and serves as a go-between for retail customers and trade printers with sister company Whirlwind its key supplier.
In the weeks prior to Whirlwind Print’s liquidation, managing director Andrew Cester sold its printing equipment and customer list to rival operator CMYKhub. The lease of Whirlwind’s factory in Melbourne’s Knoxfield was also part of the deal.
Grant Thornton liquidator Ahmed Bise said the funds from the sale repaid the ANZ bank and with no money left the approximate 100 redundant staff were referred to the federal government’s FEG scheme for their entitlements and outstanding pay.
Bise told Sprinter that since he and fellow liquidator Andrew Hewitt began their investigations they had become aware of the loan and have written to The Printing Hub’s managing director Greg Cester about recouping the funds.
“There is a loan account between Whirlwind Print and The Printing Hub,” Bise said, confirming the figure owed is in the $700,000 range.
“The balance of that account is still significant.
“We have spoken to The Printing Hub and we have written to them.”
Bise acknowledges that while creditors will be interested in knowing the outcome of this, it is not unusual for related companies to lend money and trade with each other.
He also said he will continue to investigate the commerciality of Whirlwind’s transactions.
“Certainly if there had been transactions that have occurred which were uncommercial in nature that is something we will definitely look at. But companies transacting between themselves – there is absolutely nothing unusual at all in that,” he said.
“There are two aspects. There is recovery of loan accounts and there is also the dealings that have gone on with a view to assessing commerciality as well.”
Bise said a range of options would be explored in the event The Printing Hub was unable to repay the loan but wouldn’t specify exactly what they were.
“They certainly haven’t denied the existence of the loan account,” Bise said, adding neither had there been any indication of when it would be repaid.
“It’s not a case of there is nothing we can do (if the loan cannot be repaid).
“We can take action but what that action may be who knows. I really don’t want to spend too much time talking about various scenarios and what may or may not happen.”
Sprinter contacted Greg Cester at The Printing Hub for comment about the loan but he said he did not wish to make any comments about it.
Creditor lists show Whirlwind Print owe Direct Paper $1.24m, Ball and Doggett $654,396, B J Ball Papers $80,500, Spicers Australia $22,894 and Toll Transport $23,757.
Whirlwind Print NSW Pty Ltd has its own list of unsecured creditors including Direct Paper Supplies owed $99,376, Neopost Australia $55,730 and Goldcraft Embossing $22,082. It also owes Whirlwind Print Pty Ltd $112,804.
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