The Binh An Seafood Company (Bianfishco) began reimbursing back dues owed to farmers on April 13, and also dispersed more than VND2.3 billion of the March payroll for more than 2,000 workers who had been sacked, after the company temporarily ceased operations.
Bianfishco cleared 21 households, whose back payments were under VND1.5 billion, by paying them a total VND20 billion, while the 2,000 workers received 70 per cent of their March payroll package.
Bianfishco was negotiating with farmers, whose loans exceed VND1.5 billion, for repayment in installments, said a representative of the company.
The money to pay back dues will come from selling off some real-estate assets of Bianfishco, informed Tran Van Tri, acting director-general of the company.
When asked how the company would clear debt amounts exceeding one trillion dong, Tri said that he would sell factories to pay back debts.
However, Bianfishco workers have been told to stay off work for an indefinite period of time, as the director-general has defaulted on his word many times on clearing of dues.
Tri also told reporters that a bank had agreed to bear all debts of Bianfishco under the condition that the company mortgages all its properties, including real estate projects in Can Tho, HCMC and Soc Trang, worth about VND1 trillion.
Tri confirmed that Bianfishco had set a target to re-start the Company by the end of April as well as clear most of its debts by the end of 2012.
On April 11, many farmers whose dues had not been cleared by Bianfishco had filed a petition at the Can Tho City People’s Court to conduct bankruptcy proceedings against Bianfishco.
However, their request was dismissed by the court. A lawyer representing a group of 20 farmers said that the court had refused to handle the case, because Bianfishco has already been assigned a taskforce by the Can Tho City People’s Committee to clear all their debts.
The farmers also requested the court to make it a personal responsibility of Pham Thi Dieu Hien, director-general of Bianfishco, to settle debts of the company.
Some lawyers said that it is impossible to declare Bianfishco bankrupt now, because there have been no audit reports of its total assets and debts.
Bianfishco can be considered for bankruptcy only when financial reports show that its total debts are higher than its total assets.
Moreover, the Prime Minister has not issued any instructions so far on this case, ever since Can Tho authorities submitted their report.
Meanwhile local businessmen reasoned that farmers should not ask for bankruptcy proceedings against Bianfishco, because they may not be able to recover debts. Commercial banks are usually given priority when recovering debts.