THE creditors’ meeting held last week in Melbourne by the administrator of Tempo-Bentours has definitely, and unfortunately, raised more questions and a very large dark cloud over the entire situation, along with the contributing factors that the administrator now needs to investigate.
To say that it is a mess is an understatement, not only on the basis of the confusing statements made by the Cox & Kings Directors but also the fundamental question that everyone involved and caught up in this collapse is asking – “where is the money?” Seemingly, and I can attest to this, the Australian operations had been running very successfully for many years.
AFTA, by way of the ATAS accreditation process, had a clear oversight of the profitability of the company and it was only at the point when the parent company Cox & Kings found its way into trouble that the wobble and worry became evident to AFTA, which consequently gave rise to the cancellation of the ATAS accreditation for Tempo-Bentours. It is a relatively easy thing to spot when banked funds do not equal receipts of forward sales made by consumers - it is a simple matter of mathematics, and when the parent company is providing guarantees but is itself not able to meet its obligations, disaster follows.
In this case, the numbers did not add up, and while I understand from the meeting reports that some reference was made to the cause of their demise being that of the removal of the ATAS accreditation, it is simply not true. It is ridiculous and embarrassing for those who may have made these statements, as the truth will always find its way to the top of the story.
ATAS accreditation is a voluntary factor, and the decision to participate means compliance with the rules. To place any blame on AFTA for the inability of these people and directors to operate their business demonstrates the clear lack of ability and maybe in-fact the more likely cause of this collapse. The administrator clearly has his/her work cut out for them, as so often is the case with travel business collapse as there is always confusion, frustration and difficulty getting to the bottom of what really caused the company to get itself into the circumstances of needing to liquidate and close down.
There is some way to go with this entire situation and we can all hope that the administrator is able to do its job to find out the truth, and that liquidation will bring with it some reimbursement to those impacted. If that is not the satisfactory outcome, then further legal pursuits must be considered as people should not be allowed to get away with financial wrongdoings, if in fact, this proves to be the case - a tight watch brief by all will be maintained I am sure.