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'A $2,000 loss': Maritime Fuels customers still worried about what comes next

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Like many others across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Dawn Richards is bracing for the impact caused by Maritime Fuels filing for bankruptcy.

“It’s devastating because we’re just beginning our cool months and now I need to find a different provider and to have to swallow a $2,000 loss is not going to be easy,” she said.

Richards took over a new building in 2021 that previously used Maritime Fuels as its oil provider, so she decided to stay with them.

Luckily, oil is not her main source of heat and her tank is currently full, but the fallout is still significant.

According to documents posted on PwC Canada’s website, the heating oil company owes $2.5 million in prepayments to customers.

“Obviously, I would like to get the money back, however, that probably seems inevitable since they owe so much to other secured creditors and we as the customers are unsecured customers so chances are we won’t see that money back,” she Richards.

The company made an assignment into bankruptcy on Nov. 16 and CTV News first reported the filing on Nov. 17.

Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Allan Marshalls & Associates, Mark Marshal, says it was likely a last resort.

“A company will not make a knee-jerk reaction to put themselves into bankruptcy unless they’ve exhausted all measures,” he said.

However, now that bankruptcy has been filed, there are a lot of moving parts.

“What happens is the trustee that was appointed to handle the file is required to take possession of the corporate assets of the company and required to liquidate what can be liquidated and then disperse the funds equally to creditors,” said Marshall.

He adds that secure creditors take possession of their assets first and then the remaining goes towards unsecured credits.

“The reality is if there’s assets that are there to satisfy creditors 100 per cent in full, a lot of the time there is no bankruptcy so subsequently the bankruptcy a lot of times the return could be 0.10c, 0.15c on the dollar,” he said.

As for what customers can do now, Marshall says the first step is filing a proof of claim to prove their position with the trustee who is now responsible for the case.

He says that while this won’t speed up the process, it gives customers more of a chance.

“To say that you’re owed money and not file a proof of claim, things would become limited so you want to take the time and the energy and make the effort to file a proof of claim so you at least have some standing in the estate to voice your opinion or receive any dividends if there are dividends,” he said.

As for when all the details might be worked out, Marshall said it can take upwards of a year or more. 

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