Vic miner Gutnick denies hiding assets

Melissa Iaria
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Vic miner Gutnick denies hiding assets

Fallen mining magnate Joseph Gutnick denies "ludicrous" claims he has taken steps to hide his assets and insists he is grateful to have a job after declaring bankruptcy, even if it only pays $45,000 a year.

The businessman was examined about his business affairs in the Federal Court on Wednesday after declaring bankruptcy last July, owing creditors more than $275.5 million.

One of his creditors is his wife, Stera Gutnick, who was not able to tell the court anything about her $30.7 million loan to her husband, saying last month she didn't know anything about it.

Mr Gutnick told the hearing on Wednesday that allegations his brother Abraham Gutnick had made previously in the Supreme Court were "ludicrous" and he was not hiding any assets.

"I totally deny that I have any assets that I'm hiding," Mr Gutnick told the hearing.

"I haven't talked to him for years, it's a very sensitive issue when families get into feuds. Unfortunately, I have to answer questions about it."

The court was told Mr Gutnick paid his brother's rent for a time because his sibling needed help, but the funds hadn't been repaid.

When asked why his trustees in bankruptcy shouldn't require his brother to pay it back, Mr Gutnick replied: "He hasn't got a cent to his name."

Mr Gutnick was also quizzed about a $61 million loan made by one trust to another while he was a director of both.

He replied that he took advice from his accountants and lawyers on financial matters.

"I'm a miner, not an accountant," he said.

At one time, he had a $100 million fund in the Cayman Islands, which he said was to be invested in the resources sector worldwide.

The court has heard that Mr Gutnick now earned just $45,000 a year to work full time at the family-controlled company Merlin Diamonds after declaring bankruptcy.

His son and wife each earn about $280,000 at the business.

Lawyers have previously contended Mr Gutnick's wage was deliberately kept low to prevent money being taken from his wage to pay his debts.

But he said he was still happy to be employed.

"I've got a wage, a minimal one, and I still keep my reputation intact," he said.

"The fact that I've still got a job, I'm very grateful," he said.

At a previous hearing, he defended his "gem" of a wife's wage for her part-time job and said she was probably worth millions.

Mr Gutnick also on Wednesday slammed "fake news" and said he was taking defamation action against the Nine Network and Fairfax Media, which published claims trustees were chasing an estimated $200 million in assets linked to him and believed to have been moved overseas.

The matter was adjourned to a date to be fixed.