Debate rages over liquidated travel agency

A number of readers had reacted to our front page story, ‘Travel agency under liquidation denies rumours’ published in our last (February 15) issue, with some of them accusing us of ‘taking sides’ or publishing a one-sided story.

The story related to Greenwoods Corner Travel (1987) Limited (traded as Panworld Travel), which was placed under voluntary liquidation on February 4, 2014 by its owner Nimesh Amin. We had quoted him as saying that the company had suffered huge losses ($890,000).

According to the First Report of Gerry Rea Partners, the firm appointed by Mr Amin as liquidators, the total (unconfirmed) amount owed to unsecured creditors on the day of liquidation was $1,314,220, while the Accounts Receivable figure was $657,830.

Mounting accusations

A prominent businessman wrote to us saying, “I think as a newspaper, Indian Newslink has a moral obligation to convey the truth to people. My question to you is, how much effort did your newspaper make to bring the reality to its readers?”

There are times when silence is the best form of defense, for it is against principles of journalism to reveal names of contacts who either declined to comment or chose to comment on condition of anonymity (both equating to the same situation). We did carry the views of a senior executive of a travel agency who had, we believe, aired the views of many people.

A number of businesspersons complained that Mr Amin had ‘cheated’ them, one of them claiming that the amount was more than $100,000. He requested anonymity and hence we could not publish details of his dealings.

Credit Card fraud

There were accusations of credit card misuse by the liquidated company. Two customers of the travel agency even sent us their credit card statements showing debits of the same amount more than once. A Chartered Accountant told us, “Banks issue credit cards to customers and the latter have the right to ask for reversal of amounts debited if they find that the transactions were unauthorised.”

A few lawyers and accountants told us that many companies run the risk of liquidation and that a liquidator or a firm or liquidators would investigate the affairs of the company and determine the circumstances that led to its liquidation.

TAANZ writes

Against the above mentioned, we reproduce verbatim an email received from Andrew Olsen, Chief Executive of The Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ), an organisation of repute.

“TAANZ (The Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand Incorporated) wishes to comment on the article dated 13th February 2014 which reported to your readers matters involving a travel agency, Greenwoods Corner Travel (1987) Limited, now in liquidation.

“Greenwoods Corner Travel (1987) Limited was a member of TAANZ. On the 4th of February its membership was terminated. Greenwoods Corner Travel (1987) Limited traded as Panworld Travel. It owes airlines very significant amounts of money. There will also be a number of customers who have paid money to the company to purchase travel but who have not received the airline tickets entitling them to travel. Those persons may be able to claim on the TAANZ Consumer Fund for the amount of their loss. Customers in this situation should contact TAANZ.

“We note that Mr Amin has made comment that he failed to understand the purposes of the TAANZ notice placed in the Auckland Herald on Friday, 7th February. TAANZ gazettes the failure of any of its members to ensure members of the public are aware of the remedies that may be available to them. Mr Amin would be well aware of the purposes of the notice.

“TAANZ takes the termination of any of its members very seriously and has regard for the problems these failures have on customers, not only for the disruption to travel arrangements but the anxiety caused from potential financial loss. Where it can, and is obliged to, TAANZ will assist. The Association will be continuing its investigation into the matter and involving the appropriate authorities as needed.”

Liquidators’ Notice

The following appears as a part of the First Report (dated February 10, 2014) of Gerry Rea Partners on their website:

“The liquidators understand there are a number of customers of the company who have made payment for travel arrangement but have not been issued tickets. These customers are advised to contact in the first instance the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ). The email address of TAANZ is info@taanz.org.nz. The Company was a bonded member of TAANZ, however TAANZ have raised an issue concerning whether all five outlets of the business were licensed.

“Where any customer claims have been rejected by TAANZ, they may register a claim as a creditor in the liquidation of Greenwoods Corner Travel (1987) Limited.”

Creditors keen on registering their claim/s should complete the ‘Proof of Debt’ form from the website of Gerry Rea Partners. The Form should reach the firm before March 5, 2014 by post (P O Box 3015, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140) or by fax (09) 3773098 or email info@gerryrea.co.nz

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