Topless collapse: Victims of Jean Nassif’s company speak out as they fall into financial ruin

Topless collapse: Victims of Jean Nassif's company speak out as they fall into financial ruin

Patrick Quintal said he was in financial ruin after the collapse of Topless

One of the many victims of controversial property development firm Topless has claimed she has been left in financial ruin after the company suddenly collapsed.

Voluntary administrators were appointed to the company’s building arm on July 7, while its founder Jean Nassif is wanted abroad on fraud-related charges.

The Topless Group is described as one of Australia’s largest privately owned development and construction companies with 30,000 buildings across Sydney.

Its collapse is expected to affect thousands of apartment buyers and contractors across Sydney with several projects currently under construction.

One of these is IT manager Patrick Quintal who owns and lives with his wife in a unit at the troubled Vicinity Apartments in Canterbury, west of Sydney.

The NSW Building Commissioner issued Building Work Rectification Orders (BWROs) on July 7 and August last year due to alleged defects in the building.

Mr. Quintal bought the apartment in May 2021 for $600,000 and moved in at the end of July.

‘When I bought I had no idea of ​​any potential problems, most buildings have a few rendering issues, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘But in August 2021 we got an engineering report that basically referred to the building as a death trap.

‘The best way to explain it is that what could go wrong in construction, did go wrong.’

Defects include problems with basement slabs and beams, the BWRO report said.

Several props are also kept in the basement of the building.

Topless founder Jean Nassif (pictured with wife), is believed to have fled overseas and is wanted by NSW police on fraud-related charges.

Mr. Quintal also claims that there are cracks in the balcony walls, causing his balcony to flood whenever it rains.

‘The flood has reached the door of my apartment and I’m sitting there and hoping the rain will stop,’ he said.

‘The water came close to reaching my apartment a few times.’

He also said a waterproof membrane in the building was ‘completely ineffective’.

Mr. Quintal’s quarterly tier dues also rose from $900 to $4,000 a month — most of which goes toward insurance.

He estimates he has paid $22,000 in strata levies in the past 12 months, including ‘special’ levies related to building improvement orders.

But to make matters worse, Mr Quintal said no insurance company within Australia would insure the building so the owners had to get help from one overseas, but their policy did not cover defects.

Mr. Quintal said the BWRO has now fallen on the owners due to the recent collapse of Topless.

Mr Quintal lives in the Vicinity Apartments complex in Canterbury, which is in disrepair (pictured is props holding up the building).

‘For me it was always on the cards that Topless was going to go belly up,’ she said.

‘I am surprised the government has not done anything.

What is topless?

Topplace is one of Australia’s largest privately owned building, construction and property development companies.

The company has built more than 30,000 residential and commercial buildings around Sydney, including homes, shopping centers and suites.

The company was established in 1992.

‘When you buy an apartment near the CBD, you expect it to be safe and you can live there.’

The Department of Fair Trading estimates the total cost of repairs will be $50million and with 276 units, owners are looking at costs of more than $180,000 each.

‘I can’t sell the apartment, I can’t refinance or get another mortgage, especially given what interest rates are,’ Mr Quintal said.

‘And the threat to pay $180,000 per person. It is financial suicide. I can’t even afford to go out and rent anywhere, and I’m already struggling to pay the mortgage.’

A court case is ongoing with Topless over defects within the Vicinity apartment precinct, but Mr Quintal said due to repeated delays, the cost of repairs now falls on the owners.

‘The court case is still ongoing so the loans are not considered to be owed, and as owners we are classified as an unsecured creditor which I think puts us at the bottom of the list,’ he said.

‘The situation is dire. I saw four separate units that had to be foreclosed on. I could see a unit from where I live that had a sign that said the bank repossessed it.

‘It’s only going to get worse for anyone here. I cannot get any of this money back, none of it is recoverable. It is an active money sink.’

Anthony Resnick and Sullen McCallum of DVT Group were appointed as voluntary administrators.

Mr. Resnick said it was too early to estimate how much money was owed to creditors or how many apartment owners were affected.

‘There is a number [of projects] At different stages, and owning a lot of land,’ he previously told the Australian Financial Review.

‘It has not yet been decided whether they will be completed by administrators or sold.’

Creditors are expected to meet for the first time next week.

Mr. Quintal said he spent thousands of dollars on level levies for the building

Mr Resnick said the lenders had about 40 employees, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Buyers who bought apartments with topless off-plan will see their development sold to other companies when the company goes into liquidation.

But he warned that this may not be good news for those taking the company to court over the error as they may have to shut down operations.

The company said it suffered ‘operational difficulties’ like other manufacturers in the post-lockdown period, due to staff shortages and rising costs of materials.

Topless said in a statement, ‘Senior management is working closely with the VAs (Voluntary Administrators) to achieve the best possible outcome for its stakeholders, particularly lenders and our consumers.

‘We hope that all creditors will be fully repaid through this process in due course.

‘Contrary to media commentary, no bank has ever lost money in financing Topless Group’s projects. The Topless Group has an extensive property portfolio that will be implemented throughout the process to satisfy obligations to lenders.

The unit owner claims that many balconies in the unit complex have cracks and flood when it rains

‘Toplace is confident that it will be in the best shape to navigate these challenging times with VA’s expertise under control.’

NSW Police last month issued an arrest warrant for Nassif, accused of taking a $150 million loan from Westpac using fraudulent pre-sale documents for an apartment complex in Castle Hill.

The 55-year-old left the country on December 22.

He previously applied for a review of a NSW Fair Trading decision to suspend his license for 10 years and permanently ban Topless from engaging in construction work.

Fair Trading Both Nassif and his firm were involved in inappropriate behaviour.

The operational ban was temporarily lifted to enable the company to complete remedial work on several apartment blocks, but was reinstated last week.

NSW Fair Trading said its disciplinary action to cancel and disqualify Topplace’s contractor license remains in place, along with any building work rectification orders and other orders issued.

‘Any owner corporation, supplier, trade contractor or other person who believes they have a claim against Topless should contact the Administrator to register as an unsecured creditor,’ their advice said.

You will need to complete and provide the administrators with a ‘Proof of Credit’. This will ensure that your claim against Topless is recorded and that you are provided with any notices or other communications given to creditors by the administrator.’

For those who have purchased the plan, they are advised to contact the administrators to register them as unsecured creditors.

NSW Premier Chris Minns addressed the issue on Wednesday and called on Nassif to come forward to the authorities.

‘I know that the Building Commissioner is working with tenants’ associations in New South Wales, as well as those who have already bought or moved into topless properties,’ Mr Means said.

‘We need to allow those administrators to do their job and determine what the full scale of the organization’s funding is, as well as whatever potential damage there is to the 10 or so properties in New South Wales that we think they’re looking at. A

‘There are many creditors and law enforcement agencies who are interested in speaking to Mr Nassif, I would encourage him to make himself available to investigators in New South Wales so we can find out exactly what he has done in this state and what his potential liability is. either.’

Topless has been contacted for further comment.


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