A Federal Magistrates Court registrar yesterday rejected a call for besieged rural property dealer Michael King to be put in the witness box and supply evidence about a $17.6 million deal that could save him from bankruptcy.
Federal registrar Martin Jan instead gave Mr King a fortnight to seek legal advice and decide what evidence he will supply in response to a bankruptcy push by wealthy investor Maddeliene Caratti.
Mr King has claimed he stands to receive up to $3.5 million for his role in what appear to be back-to-back purchase deals involving three Boddington farms.
Grant Bennett, the son of Wright Prospecting heiress Angela Bennett, has agreed to buy the farms from a private company controlled by Victoria Park-based financier Robert Carlshausen by February 15. The properties are currently registered as being owned by Boddington farmers Richard and Janette Kelsall.
Mrs Caratti and her son John have been trying to bankrupt Mr King since June last year over a $150,000 loan and have made a complaint to police over his alleged dealings with a BMW X5 vehicle that had been put up as security.
Mr King has pleaded not guilty in the Perth Magistrates' Court to fraudulently disposing of mortgaged property and will face a hearing on April 15.
A planned Federal hearing of the bankruptcy application was thrown into disarray yesterday when Mr King's lawyer stepped down and Mr King failed to provide an affidavit in response to material from the Caratti family casting doubt on the Boddington deals.
Caratti lawyer Francoise Carles told Mr Jan there was no evidence before him to show Mr King was entitled to the $3.5 million. "The settlement could go through and Mr Carlhausen could spend the $3.5 million," Mr Carles said.
Pushing for Mr King to testify, the lawyer said yesterday was the eighth hearing of the matter and it should not drag on any further.
Mr King said he was reluctant to put up material relating to the transaction because confidential information had already appeared in _The West Australian. _
He said he believed there was an attempt to "interfere with my contracts prejudice my interest". The Kelsalls had signed unconditional sales contracts.Mr Jan adjourned the case until February 18, warning Mr King it would proceed if he did not provide relevant documents.