Society Expeditions has launched an aggressive counterattack
against the Washington business group trying to force it into
involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Seattle-based Society filed a motion to have the bankruptcy
petition dismissed and also is seeking $1 million in damages.
The luxury-adventure cruise line also released a seven-page
packet of information that includes a press release, a company fact
sheet and a question-and-answer paper titled “Setting the Record
Straight: Society Expeditions is a sound financial company.”
The company, headed by Heiko Klein, maintains that the
bankruptcy petition is “groundless.”
“It is unlawful to file an involuntary bankruptcy petition in an
effort to try to forcibly take over the company,” a Society
The petitioner, Patrician Cruises Ltd., financed Society’s
acquisition and renovation of its ship and says Society owes $15
million in unpaid charter and commission payments.
Patrician is now owned by a group of Washington business
investors called Adventure Expeditions & Travel that will buy
Society’s assets if they are sold at a bankruptcy auction, said
Bruce Fischer, a spokesman for Adventure.
But Society also is lashing back at what it calls a smear
campaign to drive the company into financial problems.
“I am very concerned about the misinformation being spread by
Patrician’s management,” said John Tillotson, Society’s vice
president of operations. “In court filings and in statements to the
media, the company spokesman has distorted the truth about Society
in an effort to drive away bookings and financially weaken our
company in an obvious attempt to force the sale of Society
Fischer maintains that his investor group has the documents to
back up its assertions. “We feel very strongly that the claim is
legitimate and undisputed,” he said.
Society is planning to create an escrow account for all customer
deposits “to ensure confidence that the funds would be separate and
safe,” Tillotson said.
He said the ship, the 160-passenger World Discoverer, is
operating normally in the South Pacific and is 82 percent booked
for its upcoming Antarctic season.
“Everything is in place for secure operations,” Tillotson said.
“We will be operating this winter season without any doubt.”