For some people, filing for bankruptcy comes only when the money is gone and they’ve got no ability to repay their debts.
But for one entrepreneur and his wife, filing their Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was a way to keep things going and ensure that everyone got paid.
Craig Walker and his wife, Susan, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Colorado, estimating their assets at between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities at between $10 million and $50 million.
The Walkers are officers, directors, shareholders or members of several companies, including Integrated Cable Systems Inc. of Longmont and Walker Component Group of Denver, which supplies cables and components used by Vestas Wind Systems’ wind turbines, as well as ranches, two malls, and the banks of Custer Bancorp and First Southwest Bank Corp.
By all accounts, things are in fantastic shape.
This doesn’t sound as if the couple needs to file for bankruptcy, does it? With plenty of money at their disposal and business interests that keep them financially fit, the last thing you’d expect would be a trip to the bankruptcy court.
In fact, according to a report in the Denver Business Journal, the couple said in a federal court filing that they want a federal judge to oversee “an orderly and fair” voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy process that will ensure all their creditors, and not just one, are paid in full. Craig Walker’s lawyer said that Walker’s businesses, “should not be impacted by the Chapter 11 filing. The whole point of a Chapter 11 is to continue the operation of the entities.”
So why file for bankruptcy?
The answer is simple. One of Walker’s largest creditors, Wells Fargo & Co., has a court judgment for an unpaid $11 million loan. Walker cosigned the loan, and Wells Fargo is now trying to get him to pay the unpaid balance of $23 million, in spite of the fact that the bank has allegedly already collected $21 million on the judgment.
That’s right – Wells Fargo got a judgment for an unpaid business loan and is now trying to collect more than twice the loan amount from Walker, in spite of the fact that it’s already received $21 million.
Without the oversight of the bankruptcy court, Walker said in a court filing, “the debtors and their creditors (both secured and unsecured) were being subjected to an unorganized and unaccountable private liquidation that preferred only one creditor, Wells Fargo, and was destroying the value of debtors’ assets.”
In other words, filing for bankruptcy was the only way for the Walkers to keep things fair and orderly.
And in allowing the bankruptcy court to oversee things, they have the time and ability to watch over their business interests.
Though this case involves far more money than you’ve probably got at stake, it’s interesting to remember that using the bankruptcy system is often a smart way to keep your debt repayment plans orderly and fair to everyone – including you and your family.