Homeowners have been left in limbo as the building company accused of leaving extensive work uncompleted and trade debts around Canberra had an administrator appointed on Thursday.
The appointment of external management for Sublime Constructions & Development - which it is understood occurred voluntarily - came two weeks before a court date set to hear a wind-up application for the Mitchell-based company.
Trade creditors - estimated to be owed more than $100,000 - will now meet on February 28 to decide the immediate future of the company.
Alex Park is the owner of painting and rendering company Nel Trading and said it was owed nearly $70,000 by Sublime.
The appointment of an administrator - Sydney firm Mackay Goodwin - came as a surprise.
"I'm a bit shocked," Mr Park said.
"I would have believed the other way would be better, take them to court and wind them up."
Chamberlains solicitor David Robens filed the wind-up application on behalf of client Trussme in relation to a claimed $19,000 debt, and said he would pursue the claim if a better plan was not offered.
"It is disappointing to see that the administrator has only been appointed after the pressure that we have applied through the court," Mr Robens said. "If the administrator does not present a better position than the liquidation, then I will ask the court to wind up Sublime Constructions & Development Pty Ltd on 3 March.''
Mr Robens said he did not have firsthand evidence of the total value of creditors' claims, but said based on contacts he had received "it would be in the hundreds of thousands" of dollars.
Sublime is owned by Canberra men Minh Phan and Dee Sisomphou. Last week director Mr Phan denied doing anything wrong, alleging that it was home buyers who had ripped his company off by not paying for work. He said his company was owed up to $500,000 for work done.
A liquidation could have significant consequences for Mr Phan, as he is co-director of another company - CDE Investments Pty Ltd - which has been under the administration of a court-appointed liquidator since December.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission may disqualify a person from managing a corporation for up to five years if two or more companies the person has directed have - within seven years - been liquidated and unable to pay their debts.
News of the administrator's appointment came as homeowners expressed surprise that Mr Sisomphou spent nearly $1.5 million for a property on Red Hill's Golden Mile last year. A title search and company documents revealed Dee Sisomphou, who owns half the shares of Sublime Constructions & Development in his own name, registered the home at 145 Mugga Way in November after it was bought by his personal company.
Company extracts state Mr Sisomphou was a co-director of Sublime from 2009 until June 2013.
It appears notification of his end of directorship was filed with ASIC last week.
Sublime has taken down its website since homebuyers told The Canberra Times earlier this month about $400,000 worth of work was still to be done on their homes.
Tanya Nguyen said more than $40,000 of work still needed to be done on her Wright property, but she wanted the company to be closed rather than any ongoing payment plan put in place.
"It's definitely good news if … the company is closing, because it [means] more people won't be ripped off and people who have been waiting for months will get insurance companies to step in and finish the [homes]." Ms Nguyen said Mr Phan was a friend of her husband, and had paid for her husband's trip to Thailand which the two couples made in 2012.
Multiple calls to Mr Phan and Sublime since Wednesday have not been returned. A call on Friday to Mr Sisomphou's solicitor, Leonie Kennedy, has not been returned.