* Tinkler pursued by federal tax office
* Sentia Media joins list of creditors
* Tinkler's helicopter and jet seized
By Jane Wardell
SYDNEY, Dec 10 Australia's tax office is seeking
to wind up the holding firm of Nathan Tinkler over unpaid debt,
one of the highest profile lawsuits filed against the coal
baron, who had his private helicopter and jet seized by
liquidators in another recent case.
Tinkler, 36, became Australia's youngest billionaire by
riding on the back of the country's mining boom, but a slide in
coal prices has hit his net worth.
A series of lawsuits over unpaid bills and commercial
disputes have raised questions about the future of
Tinkler's main asset, a near one-fifth stake in Whitehaven Coal
, Australia's largest independent coal miner.
The Deputy Commissioner of Taxation launched action on
Monday in the New South Wales Supreme Court, pursuing Tinkler
Group Holdings Administration Pty Ltd over an unspecified debt.
The Australian Tax Office declined to comment on the case,
which will return to court in February after the Christmas
break, or provide details on the amount of money owed.
Sentia Media, a media monitoring service with corporate and
government clients, joined the action as a supporting creditor.
It also declined to comment.
Tinkler's spokesman did not immediately respond to an email
Liquidators have been appointed to three firms of which he
is director, horse racing business Patinack Farm Administration
Pty Ltd, Mulsanne Resources Ltd and TGHA Aviation Pty Ltd, over
debts totalling more than A$34 million ($35.66 million).
A receiver took possession last week of Tinkler's executive
jet and his helicopter.
Two further wind-up petitions, against Tinkler's Queen
Street Capital and Aston Copper Ltd, are due to be heard in the
Queensland Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Whitehaven shares rose 2.7 percent on Monday, but at A$3.08,
they have lost 44 percent since a $5 billion merger of Tinkler's
companies Aston Resources and Boardwalk Resources with
Whitehaven in April.
That's cut Tinkler's holding, which sources have told
Reuters is heavily leveraged, to around A$600 million, compared
to A$1.1 billion at its peak.
Tinkler's main backer, U.S. hedge fund manager Farallon
Capital Management LLC's asset manager Noonday, has been looking
at options including pressing for the sale of shares or
converting some of the loans into equity.
Tinkler paid creditors A$500,000 last month to stop wind-up
petitions against Tinkler Group Holdings Administration, but the
federal tax office stepped in instead as a creditor.
Tinkler has had some success in resolving court action.
He avoided a public spat with an Irish racehorse stud owned
by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai,
which dropped a separate court action last week.
Kildangan Stud, owned by Sheikh Mohammed's global breeding
operation Darley, had subpoened Tinkler over missed payments for
breeding fees relating to its stallions and Tinkler's
Darley managing director Joe Osborne said the debt,
outstanding for a couple of years, was settled on the eve of
Tinkler has also flagged his intention to come up with as
much as A$6 million by the end of the year to repay creditors
and pull Patinack Farm Administration, Australia's largest horse
breeding racing operation, out of liquidation.
Insolvency firm Anthony Matthews & Associates said last week
that Tinkler and other directors of the company had come up with
funds for immediate wage payments due to the company's 147 staff
and said they intended to pay off all debts by the end of the
A source with knowledge of Patinack Farm, who was not
authorised to speak publicly, said debts at that business are
likely to total between A$5 million and A$6 million.
($1 = 0.9533 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Ed Davies)