Salim Mehajer: Ex-politician’s new legal battle over bankruptcy

Disgraced politician Salim Mehajer has launched a desperate bid to have his bankruptcy annulled amid a host of legal battles.

Mehajer appeared in Sydney Federal Court on Thursday, broadcast via video link from Cooma Correctional Centre.

Judge Scott Goodman was told Mehajer had appealed an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) ruling from May this year in which his bankruptcy was extended to 2026.

In March 2018, the Federal Court declared Mehajer bankrupt after finding he owed approximately $25 million, including $8.6 million to the Australian Taxation Office.

He launched several appeals for annulment against the decision, the court finally refusing to grant an extension of time.

Bankruptcies are automatically discharged after three years unless an objection has been filed, and Mehajer’s bankruptcy period was scheduled to end in 2021.

The trustee of his bankrupt assets filed an objection to his bankruptcy discharge, citing his failure to pay an amount for which he was responsible and failure to provide information about his assets and income.

In January 2021, the Inspector General of Bankruptcy confirmed the trustee’s objection, which resulted in Mehajer’s bankruptcy until May 2026.

He appealed to the AAT, saying he had a valid reason for not complying with the demands, including medical issues.

However, the AAT found its claims to be “contradictory and unconvincing”.

Mehajer has now appealed that decision to the Federal Court, although the Inspector General of Bankruptcy has asked that the proceedings be dismissed.

The court was told he was seeking leave to appeal, even though his time to do so had expired.

He appeared in court on Thursday via video link in the jail greens and with a cache of papers on a desk in front of him.

He asked the other parties to direct their legal correspondence with him through the corrections center’s email, as his personal email address was only intermittently verified.

He also said that all of his phone calls in jail were recorded and that he consented to a transcript being sent to attorneys for the trustee and the Inspector General of Bankruptcy.

The case will return to court later this month.

Mehajer was in April last year jailed for at least two years and three months for lying under oath to further his business interests.

The former deputy mayor of Auburn is not eligible for parole until January next year after being found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of charge of false statement under oath.

Separately, in June this year, Mehajer was barred from taking legal action in New South Wales after his attempt to sue former business partners for $52 million backfired.

The controversial former developer has been declared a ‘vexatious litigant’ by the NSW Supreme Court.

Under the orders, the Mehajer is prohibited from bringing any further proceedings in New South Wales, unless the court authorizes it.

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