Rent-row store owes $152,000
FN News Editor
A court-appointed accountant has taken over the running of Butler's Food World after a lawsuit demanding $152,000 in back rent was filed against the store's owner Jeff Butler, The Freeport News can reveal.
The writ, which was filed by landlord Hannes Babak, orders Butler to pay not only the rent arrears, but also the legal fees.
And with additional back rent since the matter was taken to court, Butler owes in the region of $190,000, according to court documents.
Certified public accountant Philip Galanis was appointed receiver and manager of Butler's holdings.
The Freeport News has learned that just this past weekend Galanis was on the premises of Butler's Food World going over the company's finances.
Court documents dated September 6, 2012, give Galanis the power to manage the store's financial affairs.
The document states that Galanis has been appointed to "collect get in and receive the rents and profits and debts now due and owing and other assets, property and effects of the businesses and undertakings of Harbour Lobster and Fish Company (Butler's company) now carrying on business as grocers under the titles of Butler's Food World and Butler Specialty foods and also manage and work the said businesses and undertakings for the duration of this order until further notice."
According to the document, Butler owes Babak rent at $19,000 per month for an eight-month period from December 1, 2011, until July 1, 2012.
According to court transcripts dated September 3, 2012, Butler now owes an additional $38,000 in back rent for the months that have since piled up since the matter was taken to court. The sum now totals some $190,000.
The court ruled in Babak's favor on August 9, after Butler failed to offer a defense or acknowledge the claim filed by Babak.
The initial suit was filed by Babak's company LT Investments Limited against Butler's company Harbour Lobster and Fish Company.
The suit also asked that Butler bear the burden of Babak's legal fees totaling $12,692.
In his capacity or receiver, Galanis who is to have access to all of Butler's funds, is responsible for paying the wages and salaries of Butler's employees and his contractual and statutory entitlements to them, in addition to National Insurance payments and other payments that are necessary for the running of the company.
Galanis' fees are also to be paid from the company's accounts.
Aside from owing money to Babak, it is also believed Butler owes a large amount in electricity fees to the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), which he has also been embroiled in a war with.
Butler told The Freeport News in a previous interview that he was not paying the power company based on principal because of the excessive fees it was charging.
"We have documents showing that our power bills should be under $10,000 per month, but our bills were for $26,000, $27,000. That's with no a/c. That's another 10 to 12 thousand. This entire building they are billing us for the a/c chiller system running through the entire 83,000 square foot building and all we have here on the air is 18,000 square foot - less than 20 percent of the building," he said.
The Freeport News has made several attempts to reach Butler, but calls have yet to be returned.
© 2012 The Freeport News