A sports champion who refused to give his solicitors authority to accept service of mortgage default proceedings – and whose assets were frozen on suspicion of criminal activity – has been ordered to deliver up possession of his transport depot in semi-rural Narangba.
Bank of Queensland overcame its difficulties in securing service of process with an order from the Supreme Court that his solicitor email the documents to Brett “The Boss” Stevens in Roma.
BOQ had loaned the three-time Australian drag racing champion $1.2 million in February 2006 and secured it over the at 82-100 Callaghan Road property. A second loan of $300,000 to refinance existing debt was made on the same day on the same security.
The former national and international title holder was arrested in January 2009 and charged with drug manufacturing and trafficking offences for which he has been committed to stand trial.
An order was made in February 2009 restraining all of Mr Steven’s property – including the five lots subject to the BOQ mortgage – in a Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act case.
His car and motorbike collection were put up for public sale in January 2010 and the proceeds retained by the State.
Surprisingly, Stevens was able to keep up his mortgage obligations until December 2010 when the first default occurred and when the bank issued its proceedings. BOQ claims an outstandings total of $1.8 million under both loans.
Stevens had made a successful application to the Financial Ombudsman’s Service in December 2010 which required the bank to suspend its recovery action. Agreement was then reached to allow him the opportunity to sell the sites at least at valuation, subject to CPCA court approval.
In 2012, somewhat remarkably, Stevens – who remained in occupation of the Narangba site – obtained the consent of the bank and the court to sign a contract for its sale to a company controlled by his wife for $2.23 million.
This company was unable to obtain finance, settlement did not occur and it subsequently went into liquidation.
In 2012 – to meet further moves from the bank for vacant possession of the properties – Stevens entered into a further contract, this time to Defwom Group P/L which also gained BOQ consent and that of the court.
Predictably that deal also failed to settle but because it was a term of the sale that Defwom be permitted to occupy the site until settlement, BOQ needed its possession order against both Defwom and Stevens.
Although this unusual feature had not been brought to her attention when in the 2012 CPCA contract approval application, Her Honour viewed as “very curious” in the recent hearing, that the Defwom contract did not require the payment of any deposit but allowed the buyer immediate possession.
Because at the same time Stevens was in Defwom’s employ the court’s suspicion was raised as to whether any employment “remuneration being paid to Stephens included compensations for Defwom’s occupation of his property”.
Somewhat impatient by the extensive prevarication, the court ordered that BOQ be provided vacant possession of the land forthwith and was un-impressed by Defwom’s request that it should be allowed 12 to 14 weeks to relocate.
“In my view, if someone is occupying a property without paying any rent a property which is subject to restraint of the court, that person ought to be vacating immediately”.
The court registries list a half dozen or so other debt recovery claims against Stevens and his companies Brett Stevens Racing P/L and Brett Stevens Transport P/L.