17 Feb 2005

Receivers say Nauru faces long wait for liquidation surplus

9:17 pm on 17 February 2005

Chartered accountants in Australia say it will be months before cash-strapped Nauru receives any money left over from the liquidation sale of its Australian assets.

The firm, Prentice Parberry Barilla, was hired last year by America's General Electric Capital Corporation to recover a debt of 188 million US dollars owed by Nauru.

Partner Steve Parberry confirmed that sales of Nauru's Australian assets, including office buildings and hotels, netted about 78 point five million US dollars.

He says the debt to GE has been cleared, but none of the surplus can be paid out to Nauruan entities until Australian tax liability, which could be substantial, is resolved.

Steve Parberry says this could take months.

"Look, it's not going to be done quickly, I presume, because it's a matter of the quality of the Nauruans' records. There's also a question that there may have to be tax rulings raised in some issues. I understand that Nauruans previously had claimed sovereign immunity against some tax liabilities in the past. Well, it's also my understanding that those laws have now been changed in that sovereign immunity might not be available to them."

Steve Parberry says in addition to the time-consuming processing of tax records, there is also a chance of legal action by Nauru landowners claiming residual funds.