9 April 2024

Former Wagga Chinese restaurant owner found to have defrauded creditors

| Oliver Jacques
Golden Season Restaurant

The Golden Season Restaurant ceased trading in November 2016. Photo: Facebook.

The former owner of a Wagga Chinese restaurant has been handed a suspended 18-month jail sentence after a Victorian court found he defrauded creditors following the liquidation of his business.

Melbourne-based Maitham Al-Mosawy pleaded guilty to disposing a property with the intent to defraud creditors, after he sold a dwelling in Melbourne and gave proceeds of the sale to his father at a time he owed money to other people.

Mr Al-Mosawy was the owner of a Chinese eatery which traded under the name Golden Season Restaurant in 2016 – an all-you-can-eat buffet that operated at 31 Forsyth Street, next to Wagga’s main shopping mall.

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According to documents filed with the federal business regulator, the restaurant closed in November 2016 due to alleged disputes over employee wages. It was placed under the control of a liquidator in February 2018, when a number of creditors were allegedly still owed more than $300,000 in total.

In 2020, creditors took Mr Al-Mosawy to court over alleged unpaid debts. At the hearing, the defendant asked for time to obtain both legal advice and funds to repay creditors.

In early 2024, he faced the Victorian County Court over the defrauding creditor charges.

The published decision from Judge Andrew Parker stated Mr Al-Mosawy sold a property in Melbourne in early August 2020. He received just under $120,000 from the sale and made 18 cash withdrawals between 4 and 12 August 2020, using almost all of the sale proceeds.

On 13 August 2020, he was made bankrupt and a trustee was appointed to manage his estate and finances.

Five days later, the trustee questioned him about why he made the 18 cash withdrawals. The Melbourne man allegedly said he “spent the money on girls” and repaid a loan to a person whose address he did not know.

Mr Al-Mosawy later admitted that he lied to the trustee and in fact gave the money to his father, whom he also owed money.

Judge Parker found that in doing so, he privileged his father over all his other creditors.

“Although your attempt to cover-up your conduct may have been unsophisticated and amateurish, the fact remains that the money you withdrew has not been recovered,” Judge Parker said.

“So your conduct was successful: you achieved your intention of defrauding your creditors.”

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The judge said he took into account the difficult upbringing and life challenges of Mr Al-Mosawy, who was a refugee who fled Iraq as a child and was also suffering from mental health issues and the breakdown of his marriage.

Judge Parker also said he’d reduce his sentence because he pleaded guilty.

He sentenced the Melbourne man to an 18-month imprisonment, to be immediately released on a recognisance release order to be of good behaviour, which means he will not serve any further jail time.

A liquidator report found that his Wagga Chinese restaurant failed in part due to “poor financial control” and “poor strategic management of business”.

The former site of Golden Season Restaurant at 31 Forsyth Street was advertised for sale for $2 million in early March 2024.

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