The Sydney 2002 Gay Games administrators have moved in, vowing to get to the bottom of what sank the Games financial ship.

The Games owe a lot of people money -“ from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of these 150 or so creditors made it to a meeting this week, where they were told administrators were investigating both where the money went and when the company went under.

Administrator Peter Mars-den from RSM Bird Cameron Partners told the meeting -“ which the Sydney Star Observer attended as a creditor -“ he certainly hoped to find out what had happened.

I didn’t quite expect this much interest, Marsden told the packed room.

Early estimates have set the debt at about $2.5 million, although some of the creditors’ applications for funds have been disputed by Gay Games directors. Sydney 2002 has provided statements showing $780,000 worth of assets -“ the amount has also yet to be verified.

Of the assets, Marsden said $235,000 was in cash, $8,000 in plant equipment, $25,000 in miscellaneous bonds and $518,000 was owed to the Gay Games by other organisations. All of the money from Ticketek, who managed ticket sales to most Games events, had been released and is not included in the $518,000 worth of debts yet to be recovered.

Sydney 2002 co-chairs Bev Lange and Peter Bailey’s assertion in the Star last week that all staff entitlements had been paid was incorrect, Marsden said, although the figure of unpaid staff entitlements was less than $10,000.

Marsden said it would be difficult to determine when Sydney 2002 Gay Games became insolvent -“ that is, when their expenses overwhelmed their cash flow.

If the company was found to be trading while insolvent, the directors could be personally liable.

Last week Lange and Bailey told the Star they had stuck to their budgets and expected higher ticket sales, which did not eventuate. Marsden said he had not as yet investigated that claim.

For some of those owed money it has been a trying couple of weeks. Most had expected payment in time for Christmas and have since been told it would be unlikely they would see any money until next year.

Among the representatives at the creditors’ meeting were some familiar faces and some obvious legal representatives. Most, though, appeared to be small business operators -“ the people who supplied the Games with goods and services. There were also artists represented, including one who alleged he received a cheque in the middle of the Games week which bounced.

DJ Jake Kilby played at the Farewell party. He told the Star he invoiced the Games, received and deposited a cheque which then bounced. Calls to the Games offices went unanswered until he was eventually given the administrator’s number.

I know quite a few other people who haven’t been paid -“ most of the closing party DJs and the performers don’t seem to have been, he said.

It’s quite pathetic what they’ve done. We’re individuals who work for ourselves, we’re not big organisations. And there’s some DJs who don’t work during the day, that really rely on that income.

Kilby’s sentiments were echoed by others who rang the Star, but did not want to go on the record.

This is a closed community -“ the people who organised the Gay Games will probably turn up at Mardi Gras in a couple of years, and I don’t want to get off-side, one said.

Some of the bouncing cheque recipients would have been able to access their payments if the accounts were not frozen when the company moved into administration, Marsden said.

Questions were raised at the creditors’ meeting about the order in which payments had been made. Marsden confirmed the administrators planned to investigate and ensure no creditor was unfairly paid before others.

Among the creditors are the Royal Botanic Gardens, who are owed more than $32,000, the Sydney Aquatic Centre, which hosted the swimming carnival and Oceania Party ($64,636), musician Peewee Ferris, owed $25,950 for music production, and major Games sponsor Qantas ($224,067).

The ATO is owed $315,000 and the Federation of Gay Games more than $426,000.

The final figure would not be determined until all of Sydney 2002’s bank records were supplied and analysed.

The next meeting of creditors has been set for Monday 6 January. The creditors voted on Monday to retain RSM Bird Cameron Partners as administrators and to proceed without appointing a creditors’ committee.

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