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Former MFS boss bankrupted after $2.5 billion collapse

The final chapters of the $2.5 billion MFS debacle are being written after the Federal Court ordered that the company’s former chief executive, Michael King, be bankrupted following his failure to pay a pecuniary penalty order of $300,000.

Dec 21, 2021, updated Dec 21, 2021
Former MFS boss Michael King

Former MFS boss Michael King

Justice Kylie Downes found the court could make orders to declare King bankrupt based on the unpaid pecuniary penalty, even though such debt was not one provable in bankruptcy.

Justice Downs decided to bankrupt King on the basis that he owed provable debts exceeding $177 million and there was no evidence to suggest he could pay them and was therefore insolvent. 

She also found there was a strong public interest in protecting the public and giving fair notice in dealing with an insolvent person; and there was nothing inappropriate in ASIC seeking bankruptcy against an insolvent debtor, or about the fact that it had done so without having its costs orders assessed.

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MFS was a Gold Coast-based fund which King boasted would one day be the equal of Macquarie. 

At one stage, King was an associate of Jamie Packer and boasted high connections. He owned the Gold Coast polo facility Elyssian Fields.

But in 2016, the Supreme Court of Queensland found five former executives of MFS Investment Management liable for breaching their directors’ and officers’ duties.

The MFS Group, subsequently known as Octaviar, collapsed in 2008 owing $2.5 billion. ASIC launched civil action alleging the senior executives misappropriated $143.5 million of unitholders’ money to repay debts. ASIC alleged the conduct involved falsifying and backdating company documents to justify the transactions.

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