MNCF meets Tour de Langkawi creditors

Some debts from 2005 and 2006 editions linger

By Shane Stokes

With just days remaining before the start of the 2007 Tour de Langkawi, officials from the Malaysian National Cycling Federation have met creditors still owed money by First Cartel, 2005 and 2006 organisers of the race. The MNCF has reportedly been instructed by the UCI that it must pay off the creditors as the national cycling federation is organising this year's event.

According to Sunday's New Straits Times newspaper, a winding up order against First Cartel was issued against in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Thursday. The action was taken by Syarikat Malacca Straits Inn Sdn Berhad and supported by Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad over unpaid hotel bills amounting to RM177,741.30 [approx €39,322] plus interest and costs.

Instructions by the UCI that the MNCF should settle the debts are, according to the NST, in conflict with the Malaysian law which states that an appointed liquidator will take over all affairs, including creditors, once a company is wound up. In this case the Official Receiver of Malaysia is thought to be the liquidator concerned.

"We will allow justice to take its course and we've advised the creditors to immediately register themselves with the Official Receiver of Malaysia," MNCF deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad told the New Straits Times.

"As I've said before, the debts made by First Cartel are not ours and we won't be bailing them out. First Cartel is responsible for its debts. But since there are those who have suffered as a consequence of us sanctioning a race, we have a responsibility to assist them in solving their problems."

The Malaysian paper is claiming that First Cartel owes RM7.9 million, of which RM2.8 million are race related [approximately €1,747,745 and € 619,454 respectively] and has been ordered to be settled by the UCI. Naim has said that he has been given guarantees by creditors that the race will not be disrupted in protest. It will run from February 2 to 11.

Last month Cyclingnews was contacted by 2006 race winner David George and Irish road race champion David McCann over the non-payment of prize money to the South Africa and Giant Asia teams. Both said they were planning to protest to the UCI over the matter, but the prize money was finally issued by the MNCF in early January.

Cyclingnews understands that other creditors were also contacting the UCI around that time, including those involved in providing TV coverage for the 2006 event. It is unclear as to whether these complaints have since been settled.

Former race photographer John Pierce is also claiming to be owed money by First Cartel. Its managing director Simon Donnellan disputes that the latter is due to be paid, saying that no agreement had been undertaken by his company and that the monies paid to Pierce in the past were done so in accordance with a contract made with the previous organisers.

In response to this, Pierce counters by insisting that Donnellan was aware of the long-standing agreement and states that he has carried out the same role of official race photographer since Donnellan took over at the top. He also says that his photographs have been extensively used in the 2005 and 2006 race manuals and promotional materials, yet states he has received no financial compensation for this.

The Malaysian government has pledged its support for the Tour de Langkawi, saying that it will fund the race until new commercial backers get involved. During earlier editions the race was said to be one of the richest in the world in terms of budget; it is hoped that the government assistance will secure the long-term success of the 2.HC ranked event.

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