Tinkler family sitting on $1.4bn
Nathan Tinkler leaves the New South Wales Supreme Court on Friday. Photo: Rob Homer
Embattled coal baron Nathan Tinkler has declared his family trust is worth $1.4 billion, but he admits he is ''asset rich, cash poor''.
In the year ending 2011, Mr Tinkler's taxable income was just $9834. He expects it to be about the same next time, he revealed on Friday during a liquidator's examination of his failed private entity, Mulsanne Resources.
Mr Tinkler was being grilled in the Supreme Court in Sydney over Mulsanne's failure to pay a $28.4 million debt, but was later asked to detail his personal finances.
Tinkler Group Family Trust, he said, had assets worth about $1.4 billion and was controlled by his wife, Rebecca, who could distribute money to him tax free.
''Is that what happens?'' asked Robert Newlinds, SC, for the liquidator. ''Your wife gives you money from time to time?''
Mr Tinkler said: ''I'm very lucky, yes.''
The trust was established before the former mine electrician, 36, hit pay dirt, selling his stake in Macarthur Coal in 2008 for $440 million.
Mr Newlinds asked Mr Tinkler how much he might draw from
the fund at a time. He wasn't
sure. Could he round it to the nearest $100,000? No. The nearest million? No.
Asked if his wife was the unit holder or trustee, Mr Tinkler said he believed so, but he would need to check the details.
He said they had a total of about $250,000 in bank accounts. But Mr Tinkler also agreed that he was asset rich but cash poor.
The assets in the family trust included Patinack Farm, the horse stud that he valued at $100 million after debts - ''at least''.
They also included a major stake in Whitehaven Coal, Hunter Ports, Hunter Rail and copper explorer Aston Metals.
Mr Tinkler said the value of Tinkler Group was "not really" linked to the Whitehaven share price, which closed at $2.36 on Friday - down more than 25 per cent this year and less than half the $5.58 peak after last year's merger with listed Aston Resources and private Boardwalk Investments.
Mr Tinkler owns 196 million Whitehaven shares, which, at today's price of $2.34, makes his stake worth about $463 million.
Mr Tinkler said the stock was a "very illiquid" stock and it was "very hard to get a large strategic stake" in Whitehaven.
The numbers swirling around Friday's evidence clashed at times. Mr Newlinds turned Mr Tinkler's mention of $1.4 billion for the trust into $1.2 billion at next mention. He asked Mr Tinkler if that included liabilities. Yes, about $600 million. So that left a net worth of $600 million, Mr Tinkler agreed.
Earlier in the day, Mr Tinkler had put the total debts for the Tinkler group at ''probably around $500 million''.
Mr Tinkler has told the court that, as the global price for coal collapsed, he discovered he could not raise the money to fulfil the deal from financiers or, from his preferred source, by selling his royalty stream from the Middlemount coalmine to the Noble Group. Noble owns 51 per cent of Blackwood.
The coal boss reckoned he had a verbal agreement with Noble director Will Randall, and that they had done much bigger deals in the past this way.
But Mr Newlinds - challenging this claim - persistently quizzed Mr Tinkler on why he kept ''no email, no letter, no note'' that recorded these discussions.
A day before the deadline to settle on July 19 last year, Mr Tinkler told the court he could not reach Mr Randall.
He ''just went off line … I pretty quickly worked out I had been hung out to dry''.