BEST board votes to place co-operative in voluntary liquidation

MELBOURNE accountants investigating the books of BEST Community Development have confirmed the winding up of the Ballarat co-operative.

Liquidator Simon Nelson, of Romanis Cant Chartered Accountants, said their investigations were still at an early stage.

But, he confirmed directors and members of the co-operative had voted unanimously to place BEST in a members’ voluntary liquidation, appointing Romanis Cant from February 10.

“The disability and employment programs conducted by the co-operative were transferred to Skills Plus and BRACE,” Mr Nelson said.

“The majority of employees were transferred to SkillsPlus. 

“A very small number of employees were terminated and their entitlements paid.

“I advise that our investigations and review of the books and records of the company are ongoing.”

Mr Nelson said the BEST board claimed the financial position of the co-operative had deteriorated over recent years as income steams reduced and costs continued to rise.

It comes after former chief executive Ron Stone said the co-operative had assets of more than $10 million when he retired in November 2011, and that he could not understand why the board had taken more than six months to advertise the vacant CEO position.

However, the BEST board told Romanis Cant that a “comprehensive appointment process” followed

Mr Stone’s retirement.

The board said BEST had a number of assets, but they were not “readily realisable” and the co-operative’s trading position had worsened.

In addition, the co-operative had funded a number of loss or break-even programs.

A long-standing member of the co-operative spoke at this month’s special general meeting to wind up BEST and commended the board on its  conduct during a difficult time.

Mr Nelson said it appeared all creditors of the co-operative would receive 100 cents in the dollar on their claims.

“It is our understanding that (the) co-operative’s assets have been purchased by Skills Plus with the exception of the St Paul’s Way and Golden Point properties,” he said.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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