Bizarre reason eatery claimed it did not owe rent
A GOLD Coast company formerly directed by a dead disgraced lawyer has had to cough up $71,000 in rent arrears.
Convicted fraud Michael Yarwood told the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in June last year that Fu Manchu Dining in Chevron Island did not have to pay the money because a gravel car park nearby left its restaurant dusty.
He claimed the company spent $43,000 paying staff about five hours overtime a day to clean Fu Manchu Oriental Kitchen.
However, QCAT found Mr Yarwood's claims "lacked evidence" and ordered Fu Manchu Dining pay the rent to landlord SP (Qld) Pty Ltd. The decision was only made public last week.
Mr Yarwood, who was found dead in his unit a month later, was one of three directors of Fu Manchu Dining at the time. He was joined by Troy Hamilton and Holly Steedman.
The day after the QCAT hearing, Mr Yarwood was removed as one of the directors. Mr Hamilton, who has been a director of the company since 2015, is now the sole director.
The restaurant closed last year and reopened in October under the new ownership of Zuraya Hamilton. She was previously a director of Fu Manchu Dining between May 2015 and November 2016.
Even with the director changes the company still remains responsible for any debts incurred, including back rent.
Last June, Mr Yarwood argued had to pay staff overtime for "dust-related cleaning costs".
"Fu Manchu contends there has been a lot of dust blowing into the restaurant from the car park," he said.
Fu Manchu Dining started leasing the Thomas Dr premises in November 2015 and began trading in July 2016.
Mr Yarwood claimed the business did not notice the dust until it started trading as it had been doing its own renovations.
In its ruling, QCAT said: "Fu Manchu has not provided any photographs illustrating the alleged dust problem, despite Mr Yarwood's assertion at the hearing that the green and black surfaces in the restaurant 'don't hide' the dust.
"Nor has Fu Manchu provided evidence from any of the staff said to have been engaged in additional cleaning."
The QCAT documents also noted Mr Yarwood claimed he had raised the issue with Emmanuel Cassimatis, the former director of SP, before Mr Cassimatis died in July 2017.
But QCAT was not provided any evidence of these conversations.
"We regard the notion of a serious dust problem as alleged by Fu Manchu, generating additional cleaning costs, to be highly improbable," the QCAT judgment read.
"We find that the additional cleaning costs, if there were any, have been grossly exaggerated."
Mr Yarwood was found dead in his Main Beach apartment in July.
In the months before his death, the Supreme Court ordered Mr Yarwood to pay $1.65 million, interest of $204,866 and court costs, to Joseph "Will the Wrecker" Smith in one of the biggest and most bitter Gold Coast legal disputes.
Mr Yarwood's management company spent several years organising the sale of a large chunk of Mr Smith's property to the State Government for the planned heavy rail corridor to Coolangatta, and he claimed he was owed $1.95 million.
Mr Smith launched a counter legal attack and won.
In 2011, Mr Yarwood, a former Somerset College school captain, was sentenced to 4.5 years in jail after pleading guilty to fraud. He served nine months.