Millions of dollars was funnelled out of the coffers of failed Victorian builder Watersun Homes and into entities related to its directors in the months before its collapse, liquidators believe.
Former Watersun display homes held in the name of a separate company are being sold off – but liquidators are unsure if the profits can be claimed by homeowners and tradespeople hurt by the collapse.
The Victorian arm of Watersun Homes, WSH Group, left behind unpaid debts of around $20 million when it was placed into voluntary administration on February 28.
Now there are concerns that more than $3.6 million could have been recently withdrawn from its accounts. The two directors of the company, Williamstown developer Gary John Caulfield and accountant Tanya Lewis, have so far refused to speak publicly.
But liquidators continue to investigate what money was transferred out of the company in the lead-up to the builder's collapse, after an administrators' report detailed multiple possible breaches of the Corporations Act 2001.
The report raised concerns $3.678 million in "potential unreasonable director-related transactions" in the six months before WSH Group was placed into administration.
It said money was given to "related parties" from the company's trading profits and that it significantly contributed to the company's insolvency. It is understood the related parties are companies linked to the WSH Group directors, rather than individuals.
Mathew Gollant from liquidators Rodgers Reidy said the liquidators had considered an attempt to freeze assets of these companies, but after legal advice chose not to "at this stage".
He also confirmed that Watersun Land Holdings (a separate company that owns 17 properties in Melbourne, Geelong and Bendigo) was in the process of selling off former Watersun display homes.
Mr Gollant said it was not yet clear if the profits would go to the more than 800 creditors of WSH Group.
He said because the other companies associated with Watersun Homes may also have creditors – so even if their assets were sold off, there may be no money left.
"There have been monies transferred between these companies, as to whether we can recover these funds it's too early to say," Mr Gollant said.
In the meantime, many Watersun suppliers and contractors are struggling with debt saddled on them as a result of the builder's collapse. Around 45 creditors say they are owed more than $100,000 – including a Carlton landscape architect owed $370,000.
Records handed over by WSH Group reveal the company may have been struggling financially from mid-2013, when it posted a net loss of $584,000. It went on to post a net loss of more than $1 million in two subsequent years.
In a possible breach of the Corporations Act, the administrators believe the company failed to maintain adequate books and records to produce timely and accurate statements.
It had not lodged an audited financial statement since the June 2014 statement.
It is understood that WSH Group's director Tanya Lewis, 44, is a chartered accountant who worked for consortiums behind the Eureka and Australia 108 tower developments.
Ms Lewis continues to work out of the office of financial planners Abound Group in Ascot Vale.
She has not responded to requests for comment and when Fairfax Media visited the Abound Group office last week, practice manager Vin Brown said Ms Lewis would not be commenting.
"I think we've said that before, that she has got nothing to say," Mr Brown said.
Ms Lewis, a 2013 coterie member of Richmond Football Club, resigned as a director of The Abound Group 15 days before the Watersun collapse and does not appear on the company's website.
Watersun Land Holdings (which owns the display homes) lists the Abound Business Solutions as its principal place of address.