Rachel James, BestJet
Rachel James, BestJet

Why BestJet founder’s sister signed documents

THE sister of Rachel James, the founder of failed travel company BestJet, signed documents saying she was a director of associated travel companies, because Ms James asked her to, a court has heard.

Claire Smith has told the Federal Court she was never a director or company secretary of BestJet group companies, Wynyard Travel and Brooklyn Travel.

Ms Smith was being questioned at a public examination into the affairs of BestJet Travel and associated companies.

BestJet went into voluntary administration in December last year, leaving thousands of customers with cancelled airfares and an estimated 6000 people owed more than $26 million.

When asked whether she had ever been asked to become a director or company secretary or had received remuneration for those roles, Ms Smith "no".

But when Ms Smith, the sister of BestJet founder Rachel James, was shown Wynyard and Brooklyn documents showing her as director, she agreed they had her signature.

She said she signed them at the request of her sister, without looking through the documents beforehand or discussing the contents with Ms James.

When asked by counsel for BestJet liquidators why she signed one of the documents naming her as director, Ms Smith said: "Because she's my sister".


Rachel James (left) and Claire Smith (rear) leave Federal Court in Brisbane.
Rachel James (left) and Claire Smith (rear) leave Federal Court in Brisbane.

When asked if she looked at Brooklyn Travel's 2018 financial statement before she signed it, she said "no" and she said she knew nothing about the report's figures.

Ms Smith said she was never asked to resign as director of Wynyard Travel or Brooklyn Travel and she had never worked for BestJet Travel.

The evidence came as Ms James also faced questioning about her role.

As the sole director of BestJet Ms James told the court about how her husband, an ex-bankrupt, was left to operate company bank accounts.

Ms James said her husband, Michael James, also negotiated some BestJet contracts and she was not involved.

She said she only visited the Fortitude Valley office about once a month, before BestJet was sold late last year shortly before its collapse.

When counsel for BestJet's liquidators asked Ms James what her job title was in 2013, she told the Federal Court: "I believe I was director".

The hearing continues.