Court Report: Masala’s ‘most serious’ contempt

Hamish McNicol details why you shouldn't take nearly a year to give liquidators what they want. With special feature audio.

After nearly a year of liquidator requests, bundles of documents disappearing and reappearing, claims of threats, imposters and perjury, people linked to the Masala Indian restaurant chain have been fined for contempt.

The group is subject to a highly-publicised $34 million restraining order in a case which alleges “significant criminal activity” but the clean-up of four entities that went into liquidation in late 2014 has been just as messy.

Waterstone Insolvency took over the liquidations in early 2015 and have been trying to obtain records from Rajwinder Grewal, Joti Jain, Ravinder Kaur and Satwant Singh ever since.

After encountering “difficulties,” Waterstone obtained court orders requiring disclosure in July last year but the liquidators have repeatedly argued the four Masala representatives thereafter failed to comply.

Last month, the allegations culminated in a bizarre High Court hearing in which allegations of threats, pressure, fear, perjury and Law Society complaints were aired.

One Masala representative even went so far as to say he has been impersonated by an imposter in the proceedings, which he knew nothing about until reading his name in the newspaper.

Waterstone’s lawyer, Alden Ho, sought penalties and costs for the contempt applications against Mr Grewal, as well as Ms Kaur and Ms Jain before Justice Paul Heath.

The judge last week found Mr Grewal and Ms Jain in contempt, fining them $10,000 and $5000 respectively.

The pair has also been ordered to pay $20,000 in costs.

“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Grewal deliberately decided either not to comply with the order, or to delay, to frustrate the liquidators in the exercise of their statutory duties.

Mr Grewal was recently bankrupted.

Ms Kaur, while found to be “technically” in default, was not found to have any intent and the contempt application against her was dismissed.

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