The Barbera farming empire is being chased for alleged debts of $11m. Photo: Supplied
The Barbera farming empire is being chased for alleged debts of $11m. Photo: Supplied

Farming empire pursued for alleged $11m debts

An established Queensland farming family, whose members include an Italian bikini model and a Supercar driver, is tied to companies being examined for alleged debts of more than $11 million.

The Barbera's have been farming zucchinis, capsicum and tomatoes in the Bundaberg region for almost 50 years, currently operating under M & R Farms.

Family patriarch Giatano (Guy) Barbera, whose daughter Courtney was a runner-up in the Italian World Beauty Fitness and Fashion and whose 21-year-old son Mason drives Supercars, is being targeted by four liquidators.

He is the director of 14 companies including Barbera Fresh which is in liquidation with debts totalling more than $5.7 million.

He is also director of IPG (Global), Barbera Transport and Barbera Properties which have also been placed in liquidation.

IPG (Global) is believed to owe the taxman alone more than $1 million while Barbera Properties has debts of more than $1.45 million and Barbera Transport owes more than $800,000.

Bodybuilder and bikini model Courtney Barbera working out. Courtney was runner-up in the Italy World Bikini Fitness and Fashion Inc in 2018 and was a director of Barbera Farms. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
Bodybuilder and bikini model Courtney Barbera working out. Courtney was runner-up in the Italy World Bikini Fitness and Fashion Inc in 2018 and was a director of Barbera Farms. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail

Barbera Fresh's liquidator BRI Ferrier told creditors last November of the need for a possible public examination of the director in order to obtain information regarding the company's affairs.

Moira Carter, of BRI Ferrier, told The Courier-Mail that there has been difficulties in gaining access to books and records to assist in her investigations.

"It became apparent transfers of assets and loan documents entered into between the entities over a period of time that require further investigation," Ms Carter said.

She said the only secured creditor of Barbera Fresh was Barbera Family Farms although no debts have yet been disclosed.

All four liquidators contacted by The Courier-Mail said they had difficulties in either receiving access to accounts or obtaining responses.

Barbera Transport's liquidator John Goggin from Worrells said: "There have been some complexities and investigations are ongoing and there has been some difficulties in getting records and getting responses from other parties."

Supercar racing drover Mason Barbera is the director of M & R Farms smallcrops operator.  Pic: News/Mail
Supercar racing drover Mason Barbera is the director of M & R Farms smallcrops operator. Pic: News/Mail

Last week, Guy took over as director of Barbera Family Farms, from Mason, amid a $1.1 million lawsuit.

According to court documents, Barbera Family Farms owed the money to Barbera Farms which was wound up in the Supreme Court on Thursday with debts that totalled more than a million dollars.

Barbera Farms was re-established by Courtney in February 2017 although she ceased being a director last July. The sole director was a person from New South Wales.

The company name became available in January 2017 after the then-Barbera Farms was re-named M & R Farms.

Mason and Courtney are not the subjects of any investigation.

Guy and Mason were contacted for comment.