12 September 2023

Griffith winery Sans Pareil Estate faces liquidation hearing, allegedly owes ATO $32 million

| Oliver Jacques
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Aaron Salvestrin sniffing wine

Aaron Salvestrin of Sans Pareil Estate was once touted a “rising star of the Riverina wine scene”. Photo: Supplied.

A Griffith winery that went into administration last year and could owe the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) more than $32 million is facing a Supreme Court hearing on matters relating to its liquidation later this month.

Hanwood farmer Aaron Salvestrin launched Sans Pareil Estate Pty Ltd in 2018 when he was just 24 years old. After what seemed like a promising first few years, the company suddenly went into liquidation in October 2022 and Sydney-based insolvency firm Chifley Advisory took over its administration.

Rumours about the company’s demise swirled around town, but little was known publicly until the liquidator filed a report for creditors with the federal government regulator, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), in March 2023.

The report, obtained by Region, lists the ATO as being owed a projected amount of $32,604,461. Several prominent Griffith entities are also listed as creditors, including accountant Roy Spagnolo & Associates, agricultural supplier Hutcheon & Pearce, as well as Aaron’s parents, Dennis and Annette Maree.

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An ASIC notice shows that nine different registered companies associated with the winery are in liquidation: Sans Pareil Estate Pty Ltd, Sans Pareil Estate Exports Pty Ltd, Sans Pareil Estate Vineyards Pty Ltd, Salvestrin Family Brands Pty Ltd, Sans Pareil Estate Employment Services Pty Ltd, Salvestrin Enterprises Pty Ltd, Salvestrin Viticulture Pty Ltd, Sans Pareil Estate Logistics Pty Ltd and Sans Pareil Estate Holdings Pty Ltd.

On Monday, 18 September, the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney will hear an application from the liquidator to recover money from the winery.

Aaron Salvestrin, Annette Maree Salvestrin, Salvestrin Viticulture Pty Ltd, Salvestrin Enterprises Pty Ltd, Dennis Salvestrin and Salvestrin Family Brands Pty Ltd are all listed as parties to the court matter.

The hearing is in the civil jurisdiction, meaning it relates to money or property and is not a criminal matter. No further details on the upcoming court case have been made public.

Sans Pareil Estate sign

Sans Pareil Estate was located in Hanwood. Photo: Supplied.

A further ASIC document obtained by Region revealed the liquidator filed an application with the federal regulator that sought to disclaim a 2019 Volkswagen Amarok in June 2023, which may indicate it viewed the vehicle as an unsaleable asset in the administration process.

The liquidation represents a rapid fall from grace for a company that was lauded for its “extraordinary growth” over its first three years.

Destination NSW, the state government’s lead tourism agency, praised Mr Salvestrin’s “rule-breaking wine” in early 2022, which it said used “grapes from his family vineyards made with untraditional methods”.

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The young Griffith entrepreneur was also described as a “rising star of the Riverina wine scene”. The name of his company is a French phrase which means “without equal”.

For now, though, the liquidation continues.

Chifley Advisory’s report outlined its own costs of winding up the Hanwood winery. The insolvency firm sought approval from creditors for its partner and staff to be paid $404,690 plus GST for services undertaken between 27 October 2022 and 12 February 2023 on the liquidation of Sans Pareil Estate Pty Ltd.

Some 16 staff are listed as working on the matter.

Region asked Chifley Advisory for an update on the liquidation and when it would be finalised but did not receive a response.

The ATO also refused to answer whether it had thus far recovered any of the taxpayers’ money it claims it is owed and if it was investigating the winery.

“The ATO cannot comment on the tax affairs of any individual or entity due to our obligations of confidentiality under the law,” a spokesperson said.

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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