Travellers left out of pocket by the collapse of an Adelaide travel agency in early August have almost no chance of ever seeing their money again.
Once all creditors’ claims have been processed, the debts of Zym Import/Export Pty Ltd, also known as Zym Travel, are expected to top AUD 500,000. The realisable assets of the business are said to be worth less than AUD 17,000.
Zym Travel owner Zeljka Loncar has been charged with dishonestly dealing with documents, a crime for which the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. The matter came up in the Port Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday. It was called early, no plea was taken and proceedings were adjourned until 15 October 2015. Several creditors who arrived at the court left disappointed.
Creditors of Zym already know they have little chance of getting their money back. Creditors met in late August to learn that collectively they are owed more than AUD 410,000, with more claims coming in. That’s already over 24 times the value of the realisable assets of the business. The administration of Zym is being carried out by BCR Advisory.
Creditors include banks, companies that provided unsecured business loans, a travel intermediary, and “several dozen” people who paid money for air tickets they never received, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The paper named the largest single personal creditor of Zym Travel as Mohamed Farrage, originally from Eritrea on the Horn of Africa, who is owed more than AUD 22,000 for air tickets ordered, paid for, and never received.
Zym creditors might well yearn for the days of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF). It was precisely because of situations such as now being experienced by Zym Travel’s customers that the TCF was created by Australia’s state governments in 1986. The TCF, a statutory, industry-funded scheme, provided compensation to travel agent customers who suffered losses from travel agent collapses for payments made up to 30 June 2014, when the TCF was disbanded by state governments and replaced by a voluntary AFTA-administered accreditation program (ATAS).
The TCF had two functions: to impose mandatory minimum standards on travel agents and to provide a fund to compensate consumers in the event an agent failed to provide services customers had paid for.
ATAS addresses the first of the TCF’s functions (minus the robust financial standards demanded by the TCF) but ATAS is not mandatory. The second of the two TCF functions has been dismantled.
Meanwhile, like a rave from the grave, the Zym Travel website continues to tell the world: “Zym’s mission is to become the foremost provider of travel to the people.”
“Zym’s owner and employees are outdoor travel enthusiasts as well as seasoned travel industry professionals,” the website proclaims. “Zym seeks to asses individual’s and business people’s needs to help them make the best possible travel arrangements on their budget, and skill level.”
Written by Peter Needham