Byron Bay connection to multi-millionaire’s family dispute
A WEALTHY businessman who previously owned the Beach Hotel in Byron Bay had acquired the venue with funds dishonestly obtained through a family trust, a court has heard.
Melbourne-based investor and race car driver Max Twigg has lost a lengthy court battle in which he was sued by his mother, Diane, and sisters, Frances and Elizabeth.
When Justice Michael Ball handed down his judgment in the NSW Supreme Court on August 31, the court heard Mr Twigg had committed "breaches of trust".
After his father, William Twigg, passed away in 1996, Max Twigg began managing the companies within the Twigg Group.
Mrs Twigg, who had jointly owned the group with her late husband, was then the sole shareholder.
When the group sold to Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd for $155.8 million in 2007, Mr Twigg gave his mother and sisters a $5 million "gift" each.
After investing those funds based on financial advice, they lost the majority of this during the global financial crisis.
Justice Ball formed the view Mr Twigg acted dishonestly in the way he accessed the funds.
"For the reasons I have given, I do not think that Max acted honestly or that his actions mean that he ought to fairly be excused," Justice Ball said.
"There was no consent, let alone consent in writing to the breaches of trust I have found to exist."
Justice Ball said it was "appropriate to characterise Max's conduct as dishonest".
"He distributed a large proportion of the proceeds of sale of the Twigg Group business to himself without explaining to Mrs Twigg what he was doing in the hope that she would say nothing," Justice Ball said.
"He purported to sign resolutions on behalf of the Corporate Plaintiffs when he at least knew that the normal practice was that they would be signed by both him and his mother."
He said Mr Twigg's behaviour was "not the conduct of an honest person".
Max Twigg purchased the Beach Hotel for $44 million in 2007.
He sold it for $70 million to Impact Investment Group 10 years later.
Moelis Australia Hotel Management officially acquired both the business and the real estate for $104 million in February this year.
Justice Ball ordered that a range of properties, cash and a luxury car be "held on trust for the plaintiffs".
This includes properties in Miami, Palm Beach and Mermaid Beach in on the Gold Coast, a sum of $9 million and a Porche vehicle.