The busy Jopalo Boats yard seen by Rob Lang no longer appears that way.
The busy Jopalo Boats yard seen by Rob Lang no longer appears that way.

Jopalo Boats owner bankrupt

THE owner of award-winning Yamba boat-building firm Jopalo Boats has filed for bankruptcy with the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia.

Mark Spagnolo, a solicitor acting for a number of creditors of George Lousick, said Mr Lousick filed a debtors’ petition for bankruptcy with ITSA on Wednesday.

“Another creditor has approached me in the last couple of days,” Mr Spagnolo said.

“The tally now is around nine and the amount owing is easily over half a million (dollars).”

Mr Lousick’s bankruptcy is the final stop on a spectacular fall from grace for him and his company.

In late 2007, he stood on the steps of Parliament House in Sydney to accept his second NSW Aboriginal Employment and Business Award in three years.

His company, Clarence Valley Aluminium and Steel, was earning fame with the Jopalo Boats brand and he had expanded his staff to five fulltime workers, a casual and a sub-contractor.

Earlier this year Mr Lousick remarried in spectacular style with a number of his creditors reporting that he boasted spending $30,000 on the reception.

Others noted hefty purchases on furniture for his unit and a new car for his new wife.

One creditor, Rob Lang, had taken his Jopalo boat back to the yards for a refit earlier this year and found the yard a hive of activity.

“There were five or six boats in the yard and workers everywhere,” he said.

“I only had about $10,000 of work to be done and that was mainly labour as well as an engine.

“I had no worries about handing over the money as more than half that was buying a motor for me.

“In retrospect I should have been worried.”

Any concerns Mr Lang had with Jopalo Boats were eased when he learned that they had been financed through the Federal Government body, Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

However, there had been a dark side to Mr Lousick’s financial history.

From January 2, 2004 to September 13, 2006 he had been declared bankrupt, which should have had an impact on his ability to gain finance with IBA.

Mr Lang did not know if IBA was aware of Mr Lousick’s previous bankruptcy when it financed the expansion of his business.

The Daily Examiner has contacted IBA about these concerns, but because of a secrecy provision in its charter it is unable to divulge any information about its dealings with Mr Lousick.

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