RETAIL titan Gerry Harvey has described how Nathan Tinkler uses him ‘‘like a little bank’’ and revealed the Newcastle Jets owner still owes him about $22 million.
Speaking from a New Zealand horse sale on Thursday, Mr Harvey said former billionaire Mr Tinkler had repaid him about $37 million to date.
The Harvey Norman boss admitted there had been several deadlines for the full debt to be repaid, but said they had ‘‘never been adhered to’’.
‘‘I’m like a little bank for him,’’ Mr Harvey said. ‘‘He has until very recently borrowed money from me – it’s a business thing as far as I’m concerned.’’
While he’s lent Mr Tinkler millions over the past few years to service debts from his rapidly collapsing business empire, Mr Harvey quickly moved to distance himself from any money owed by his friend.
‘‘It’s got absolutely nothing to do with me at all,’’ Mr Harvey said when asked about debts owed to former Patinack Farm staff.
‘‘If there are people with an issue then they need to raise it with their employer, I am most certainly not involved in any of that. I have never covered their wages.’’
Following the very public implosion of the Newcastle Jets this week and Mr Tinkler’s promise to settle the club’s debts, former Patinack staff contacted the Newcastle Herald on Thursday pleading to be paid what they are owed.
One former staffer said he feared losing his home and had not been paid superannuation in full for more than three years. Another said she was ‘‘fed up’’ with watching Mr Tinkler’s business ventures play out in the media when so many ‘‘small people’’ were owed money.
‘‘It’s unbelievable that all of this can be going on with the Newcastle Jets and we hear Tinkler talking about having more input into the club and fixing its financial situation,’’ a former staffer said.
‘‘We are not asking for something that is not rightfully ours, we just want what we’re owed.’’
In an interview with SBS’s World Game on Thursday, Mr Tinkler resolved to settle the Jets’ debts, but in a statement of defiance aimed at Football Federation Australia, asked for the $5million Jets’ acquisition fee he paid in 2011 to be refunded.
He is the only A-League owner ever to be charged such a large amount to take over a club.
“Is there also a deadline for me getting my $5million back from the FFA. Is that a deadline too?’’ Mr Tinkler said. “That would be good. That would really help. FFA is at me for about $500,000, and I am at them for $5million.’’
In August last year, Mr Harvey called in an estimated $40million debt from Tinkler, by breaking up and selling off his beloved Patinack Farm thoroughbred breeding and racing empire.
The former Patinack staffers said they were unsure who was covering the company’s debts, but ‘‘hoped’’ it was Mr Harvey. But Mr Harvey said he was not responsible and he never asked Mr Tinkler what he did with money he lent him.
‘‘He’s often said he’s used it to pay wages,’’ Mr Harvey said.
‘‘They are all probably hoping I will lend him another million so they can get their money.’’
Only one Patinack property has sold, Banoon in Monegeetta, auctioned for $2.5million last year with all money going to Mr Harvey.
The others, including properties at Sandy Hollow and Broke, are still on the market and Mr Harvey holds first mortgages over them.
Mr Tinkler recently sold his share of stallion Lope de Vega, with all proceeds going to Mr Harvey.
Meanwhile, Patinack Farm Administration creditors continue to pursue Mr Tinkler for the $4.7million they are allegedly owed, with the matter headed to the Supreme Court in Adelaide.