Bestjet founder Rachel James sold the business in November. Picture: Annette Dew
Bestjet founder Rachel James sold the business in November. Picture: Annette Dew

Bestjet founder blames failure on new owner

THE founder and former owner of Bestjet Travel has blamed the collapse of the online booking firm on the new owner, who oversaw the business for only 39 days.

Refusing interview requests and maintaining her family has been "financially crippled", Bestjet founder Rachel James has used a public-relations agency to try addressing the financial cataclysm that has angered hundreds of former customers.

Brisbane-based Bestjet was placed into voluntary administration in December owing $14 million.

New owner and director Robert McVicker, whose family formerly ran logistics business Morris Corporation, had only overseen the company for 39 days before calling in insolvency experts Nigel Market and Bradley Hellen from Pilot Partners.

As The Courier-Mail earlier reported, Mr McVicker has filled out a report filed with regulators in which he described only having a "limited time" at the business and not having access to Bestjet's accounting package.

Mr McVicker had also previously been reported as saying he was considering legal actions against the former owners for what he alleged were reneged promises on access to records and disclosure of the operation's true financial nature.

Bestjet's main shareholder had been Ms James, who had also been its director. Her husband Michael James is a former bankrupt who in 2013 was banned from running companies for three years after his Air Australia airline went bust owing nearly $100 million in 2012.

He worked at Bestjet, with Ms James in a statement stressing he was an "employee" but also allowed to manage corporations.

 

Michael James was banned from running companies for three years after his airline went bust. Picture: Liam Kidston
Michael James was banned from running companies for three years after his airline went bust. Picture: Liam Kidston

 

Ms James maintained that the business had been profitable and followed "stringent operational, financial and industry protocols" when she was director.

But it had now failed, owing money to people including her family, following the "actions and inactions" of Mr McVicker, she alleged.

She argued the business was sold in November following due diligence and compliance with accountancy firms BDO and Hanrick Curran. No money had been paid for the sale, she said.

Ms James, 42, further alleged it was questionable that airline tickets purchased month ago would be cancelled. This was because it took two weeks for funds to be processed and all orders should have been cleared with travel authorities and passed on to airlines, she said.

Mr McVicker could not be reached.



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