Fish and chip company linked to former real estate agent Aaron Drever liquidated

A fish and chip company with links to struck-off real estate agent Aaron Drever is in liquidation and officials plan to refer allegations of potential wrongdoing to police and the Official Assignee.

Liquidators are trying to trace more than $100,000 that’s alleged to have been sunk into three takeaway ventures by a wealthy Australia-based investor.

They are also alleging potential breaches of insolvency rules by Drever – an undischarged bankrupt – and probing whether takings were split between different Eftpos machines and diverted to other bank accounts, a liquidator’s report claims.

Drever – who made millions of dollars selling houses in West Auckland before being stripped of his licence for misconduct in 2016 – strenuously denies any wrongdoing.

He told the Herald he had not been running any business, was not in breach of insolvency rules and had done nothing wrong.

“I haven’t taken anything. The failures of that company are nothing to do with me.”

The company directors were “ultimately responsible” for the operation.

Drever is an undischarged bankrupt following the failure of his Grocer’s Market which was liquidated in 2018. He was found personally liable for almost half a million dollars.

The former “voice” of Western Springs speedway has since been linked to several Auckland outlets of fast food enterprise the Fish and Chippery.

Though Drever’s name does not appear on company records as a director or shareholder, the Herald understands he has been instrumental in the businesses’ operation, even spotted taking orders and manning the deep fryer.

Liquidators called in

Liquidator Gareth Hoole is trawling through bank records for a company named Fish and Chip Co Ltd, which is owned by Bondi-based man Andrew Guy Phillips.

Phillips previously owned failed grocery chain Nosh, which was put into receivership in 2017 owing millions of dollars to creditors.

Hoole told the Herald he understood Phillips had agreed to pay $80,000 last year to purchase three Fish and Chippery companies – One Tree Hill, Birkenhead and Grey Lynn.

The deal was negotiated by Drever, Hoole said.

The listed directors of those three companies are Melissa Erin Wymer-Tisdale – Drever’s girlfriend – and Debra Jane Wymer – Wymer-Tisdale’s mother.

Hoole said a sale and purchase agreement was drawn up for the deal but never signed.

Drever claims the sale therefore never occurred and Phillips was not entitled to any of the funds.

Hoole believed that after an initial cash injection of $10,000, Phillips had put further money into the business as payment of the purchase price, but grew concerned about the financial situation and liquidated the company last month.

“All he seemed to be doing was pouring money into this thing.

“The money just seemed to be going the wrong way,” Hoole believed.

Hoole said he was having trouble getting the necessary information for the liquidation process to make sense of what he described as “fairly loose” financial arrangement.

“The paperwork is somewhat scant.

“We’re trying to piece together where the money’s gone.”

From his analysis so far, including evidence from financial records, Hoole said that in his opinion Drever “clearly had control of a bank card and bank accounts”.

And despite the fact no sale and purchase agreement was signed, Hoole said there was a “prima facie case” that Phillips had bought the companies, given the money he’d paid into the businesses.

“What I can say is given the financial results I’ve looked at so far, I have to question whether all the money that’s been taken has found its way into the correct company’s bank account.

“I would suggest that Andy Phillips is out of pocket by over $100,000.”

Both the One Tree Hill and Birkenhead stores were no longer trading, but Hoole believed Drever was still running the Grey Lynn shop.

In his opinion, Drever’s role in the companies raised questions about possible breaches of bankruptcy rules, which prevent undischarged bankrupts from running companies.

Allegations of 'unauthorised use of company funds'

A liquidator’s report obtained by the Herald says Phillips “was led to believe he was purchasing highly profitable businesses by a local entrepreneur, who asserted that he was the authorised vendor”.

Though the promised sale and purchase agreement and leases did not occur, “the company [Fish and Chip Co Ltd] honoured the terms of the transaction nonetheless”.

The report says the company experienced cash flow problems for some months prior to liquidation.

Phillips became “dissatisfied” with the management of the business and having to repeatedly commit further money to cover losses.

“He was not satisfied with the explanations being offered by the aforementioned entrepreneur who was involved in the daily management and control of the business, and took the decision to place the company into liquidation,” the report says.

The liquidators said having determined that the person who appeared to be running the company, Drever, was an undischarged bankrupt, they “will report this fact to the Official Assignee”.

The were also investigating concerns by Phillips of “unauthorised use of company funds” and whether multiple Eftpos machines had been used “resulting in splitting of cash takings into different bank accounts”.

This would be reported to police as evidence was obtained.

'It's nothing to do with me'

Drever said though he was offered a role by Phillips, he had not been running the companies and the liquidation process was “nothing to do with me”.

“Andrew Phillips tried to purchase the companies. The deal was never completed. There was no sale and purchase agreement nor any leases signed.

“At best he had a licence to operate. They were going to sell it to him. It didn’t happen.”

Drever said he did make purchases on the company’s account for stock and paid suppliers to keep the business afloat.

But he denied profiting from the business and “refuted” suggestions of money splitting through multiple Eftpos machines, which he described as a red herring.

He maintained that the takeaway businesses were still owned by the company directors.

“There was no permission granted for [Phillips] to take any funds from the nominated account.

“My understanding is that the directors of those premises are preparing a statement of claim for funds obtained by Fish and Chip Co Ltd without a signed sale and purchase agreement.”

Drever also denied acting in breach of bankruptcy rules.

“I wouldn’t be that stupid.”

A lawyer acting for Phillips declined to comment.

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