Nova Scotia

Court OKs NewPage funds

The court-appointed monitor overseeing the sale of the shuttered NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill has been given permission to send out claims forms to some Nova Scotia forestry companies that are owed money.

The court-appointed monitor overseeing the sale of the shuttered NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill has been given permission to send out claims forms to some Nova Scotia forestry companies that are owed money.

On Friday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice David MacAdam approved two separate funds to pay unsecured creditors, but he didn't determine who was eligible.

One fund from the province contains $998,000 for silviculture work, while the other contains $1.35 million that was set aside from NewPage's assets to pay wood suppliers.

Matthew Harris, the court monitor with Ernst Young, was ordered to report to the court on Oct. 21 on the number of claims received and their dollar value. A court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2 to determine the validity of those claims.

MacAdam said all claims would be made public and the courts — not Harris — will control the process.

"My feeling is if you are going to get a pro rata settlement you have the right to know who else is getting a similar amount or better," he said.

MacAdam also approved a $14-million forestry infrastructure fund that was set up by the provincial government to keep forest contractors going after the closure of the mill. The silviculture package is included in that fund.

The mill in Point Tupper shut down last week, putting about 1,000 people out of work. The company owes $156 million to unsecured creditors.

MacAdam challenged a lawyer representing wood suppliers who supplied the mill from private woodlots in Cape Breton.

Robert Sampson claimed there "may have been fraudulent" conduct by the mill in the week leading up to the shutdown. He told the court NewPage pressured suppliers to move as must wood into the plant as possible, even keeping the gate open later than normal.

"A serious allegation has been made," MacAdam replied. "I'm not going to react to hearsay. Let's have that evidence. I want to see it."

MacAdam asked for an affidavit.

Outside the courtroom, Sampson told CBC News that he was meeting with woodlot suppliers Friday to discuss the issue.

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