3 Mar 2005

Australian Government says Nauru may not get any money from asset sale surplus

8:45 pm on 3 March 2005

Australia says it is possible Nauru may not receive the approximately 63 million US dollars it is hoping to get back from liquidators in several months' time.

Nauru says that's what it hopes to get back from Sydney-based receivers Prentice Parberry Barilla once Australian tax and any other debts are settled.

This follows payment of Nauru's 188 million US dollar debt to America's General Electric Capital Corporation.

Nauru has threatened legal action against Prentice Parberry Barilla which, it says, is not completing its work quickly enough.

But Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Bruce Billson, says there may not be any surplus left to pay to Nauru.

"Well, it's hard to know at this stage but that is a possibility. I mean we need to be realistic that a number of the government owned business enterprises in Nauru have been engaged in trade and transactions for a number of years without producing audited accounts. So, not just the Government itself but a number of the government-owned business enterprises."

Mr Billson says Australian financial experts are working with and under the direction of the Nauru Government on a forensic accounting probe into where Nauru's lost wealth went.