ATO freezes $45 million in Nudie Juice takeover proceeds

ATO freezes $45 million in Nudie Juice takeover proceeds

The Australian Tax Office is set to freeze $45 million in proceeds from the takeover of Nudie Juice company by Philippines-based multinational food giant Monde Nissin, according to reports.

In February this year, Monde Nissin signed an agreement to purchase Nudie, which holds a 29% share of the Australian juice market.

The deal was the latest in a string of Australian acquisitions by Monde Nissin, including Black Swan Dips in July 2014 and Wattle Valley Gourmet Dips’ parent company Menora Foods in January 2015.

However, soon after the deal was announced, the Australian Tax Office took legal action to stop proceeds of the $80 million sale being distributed to its founders, the family of founder and former owner Andrew Binetter.

In the latest twist, The Australian reports Australian Taxation Office is set to be granted a freeze of $45 million worth of assets from the sale of the Nudie Juice in the Federal Court in Adelaide.

The urgent Federal Court application was made after lawyers for the liquidator of BCI Finances – the Binetter family’s funding vehicle for Nudie Juice – found out the family was about to sign off on the $80 million sale to Monde Nissin. The ATO, in turn, is a major creditor of BCI.

Binetter and his family are also currently battling accusations they concealed secret Swiss bank accounts from the ATO.

The cases are the latest in a string of legal headaches for the Binetters and Nudie Juice.

A business directed by Binetter faced a $2 million tax bill in July 2012, after it could not prove in the Federal Court that $4.75 million received from a bank in Israel was actually a loan.

In that case, the Federal Court heard Binetter’s father Erwin, who passed away in 2009, set up a company called Rawson Finances in 1997. Both he and his wife served as directors, with Andrew appointed as a director in 1998.

During 1997, Rawson received three payments from Israeli bank MDB totalling $4.75 million. The Binetters argued “at all times” that these payments were actually a loan, on which it could deduct interest payments.

Meanwhile, in February 2008, the ACCC alleged Nudie made misleading claims on the packaging and in promotional material for two of its fruit juice products, Rosie Ruby and Rosie Blue.

When contacted by SmartCompany, an ATO spokesperson said “we can’t comment on any taxpayers’ affairs given our obligations around confidentiality under the law”.

SmartCompany also contacted both Nudie Juice and its barrister, Andrew Tokley, but received no comment prior to publication.

Know more? Email [email protected].

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