Fishos closes its doors

Shut down:  Brighton-Le-Sands Amateur Fishermen's Association of Kyeemagh will remain closed after the appointment of controllers. Picture: Jane Dyson.
Shut down: Brighton-Le-Sands Amateur Fishermen's Association of Kyeemagh will remain closed after the appointment of controllers. Picture: Jane Dyson.

Brighton-Le-Sands Amateur Fishermen’s Association at Kyeemagh has shut it doors after financial controllers were called in last week.

Several clubs are understood to be vying for a takeover.

Dean-Willcocks Shepard liquidator Adam Farnsworth confirmed the company was appointed as controllers on February 27 by the secured creditor — Carrington National.

The non-bank lender provided $750,000 in refinancing to the association in 2010 after it exited administration and changed board members.

Mr Farnsworth said it was assessing the association’s financial position and the club would remain closed in the interim.

‘‘We are exploring a number of options in regards to the future of the club and hope to have a resolution shortly,’’ Mr Farnsworth said.

The club holds 61 gaming machines worth more than $165,000 that could be among assets sold to repay creditors.

Carrington National chief executive Gino Marra said the decision to call in controllers was prompted by a default in payment by the association.

Association general manager Peter Jones said: ‘‘We tried our best to turn Fishos around. It’s a very difficult economic climate for clubs.’’

Most of the association’s board stepped down at an annual general meeting on December 7.

Among those who did not renomiate were former association president Pat Carbone, vice-president Michele Fowler, a St George Oztag area manager, directors Michael Azzi, Rockdale Council’s development assessment officer, the council’s media and public affairs co-ordinator Vince Carrabs, Tony Karoviski and treasurer Stephen Karanfilovski.

The new board includes president John Birrell, vice-president Jenny Lutton and treasurer Ken Chan.

Directors include Ben Panarello, Carlo Panarello and Romeo Peregrina.

Club Marconi is understood to be considering a takeover of the association but its chief executive officer Tony Costain said no expression of interest had been put forward and the club was not in a financial position to consider one.

Association president John Birrell said he was not informed of the association’s closure or the appointment of controllers.

‘‘I found out because a long-term club member visited the place and rang to tell me its doors were shut,’’ Mr Birrell said.

‘‘Members of the board have been treated with contempt.’’

Dean-Willcocks Shepard is also a provisional liquidator in an application made to the Supreme Court by Mr Carbone concerning the Calabria Community Club Ltd, at Prairiewood, of which he was also a director.

Mr Carbone is embroiled in a dispute with other club directors over financing of a major town centre redevelopment at the site, which was rezoned last August.

Mr Carbone owns several property and development companies.

He is the brother of Fairfield councillor Frank Carbone. He is also an associate of former Labor Fairfield MP Joe Tripodi, and Calabria Community Club president Rocco Leonello, who was Mr Tropodi’s policy advisor.

Mr Tripodi ran for the presidency of Club Marconi last November against Vince Foti but was unsuccessful.A NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) spokesman said it was continuing investigations into allegations of ‘‘branch stacking’’ at the Brighton-Le-Sands Amateur Fishermen’s Association 2010 election, the improper appointment of board members and the general manager, an increase in casino-style poker and a rise in mooring and slipway fees.

The department spokesman said a full compliance audit of the association was ongoing and had increased the scope of the inquiry.

An OLGR investigation last year found no breaches of the Registered Clubs Act in relation to the allegations raised by 30 club members about management and activities at the club.

The association said it would continue to co-operate with the department.‘‘Any approval of potential amalgamation of the venue needs approval from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority,’’ he said.

‘‘As the matter is subject to an ongoing investigation it is inappropriate to comment further.’’

Former association president Pat Carbone has in the past strenuously denied any impropriety by the board.

St George police confirmed it was running at least three separate non-related investigations concerning the association.

St George police Inspector Brett Van-akker said no charges had been laid over what he described as a number of ‘‘fraud allegations’’ reported by the association.

The Leader understands that the past and present board members and the general manager are not under investigation by Police.

The association’s annual financial report for 2011 showed a net loss of $117,195 against a net profit of $6800 in 2010.