A liquidator found that Guru Travel’s membership of a national travel agents’ body was terminated more than a year before it went into liquidation.
Liquidators are investigating irregularities with the way customer payments were used by Auckland’s Guru Travel.
The travel agency went into liquidation in November and liquidator Gareth Hoole of Ecovic KGA found it owed more than $370,000.
The first liquidator’s report said a number of customers had paid for travel or paid deposits to the company, but had not been issued with travel tickets or vouchers.
Hoole had established that no funds were held in trust for customers, and preliminary investigations found it appeared the money was paid to a wholesaler and used to settle “legacy debt” rather than to pay for customers’ travel.
“The liquidators consider this to be irregular and will continue to investigate that matter with a view to consider seeking to void transactions paid to the ticketing consolidator/wholesaler.”
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Were you affected? Contact Amanda.Cropp@stuff.co.nz
The liquidator’s statement said Guru Travel had total liabilities of $370,157 and total assets of $156,556, with about $11,000 of that in cash and fixed assets.
It listed 22 creditors, and said unsecured creditors were owed $323,362.
Hoole recommended that affected customers who had travel insurance or paid for travel with a credit card could independently try to recover the money through those channels.
His report said that for some months prior to the appointment of liquidators, the company had experienced cash flow difficulties caused initially by the buy-out of a shareholder.
They were compounded by the termination of working capital facilities by a bank and a travel wholesaler, forcing the company to operate on a cash basis.
Investigations had also revealed that Guru Travel’s membership of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand was terminated more than a year earlier, and there was no bond arrangement to cover customer payments.
The liquidators said that based on the records made available, it appeared Guru Travel was insolvent at the time they were appointed and they would report their findings on this issue to the Registrar of Companies.