A bizarre postscript is under way in the saga of Cameron Slater’s notorious blog shutdown. Alex Braae reports.
Liquidators have fired a public shot at Juana Atkins, the wife of Cameron Slater, who has taken over the company behind the now defunct Whaleoil blog.
Go to Whaleoil.net.nz and you’ll find a long history of posts, with the site’s standard layout. Look closely and you’ll see that none of them have any comments on them – the first sign of something unusual for a blog with a loyal audience.
Got to the same site, but at the .co.nz domain, and what you’ll see is very different. There the site’s content has been replaced with a single message, posted by Corporate Restructuring Limited.
The message reads:
It is the liquidator’s opinion that the director of Social Media Consultants Limited, Juana Atkins or someone directed by her has illegally used the customer database for the benefit of another business entity.
This appears on the face of it to have been done for the purpose of misappropriating the company’s goodwill and causing the company loss, therefore breaching the duties as a director to preserve the assets of the company for the benefit of creditors.
The Whale Oil blog and everything associated to the blog remains the property of Social Media Consultants Limited (in liquidation).
The .co.nz suffix was by far the most commonly understood address for the site, though the .net.nz version was a very convincing mirror. Various publications, including The Spinoff, were taken in by it, when we reported last week that the site was shutting down.
Sources have indicated to The Spinoff that the liquidator believes Social Media Consultants Ltd, the company behind the site, may have been essentially asset stripped. Those assets have then been migrated to WOBH Ltd, the company behind the thebfd.co.nz, rather than the latter site being a new entity.
WOBH Ltd was incorporated by Atkins in February this year, just a month before Social Media Consultants Ltd was put into voluntary liquidation.
In the farewell post (on the .net version of the site) Juana Atkins indicated that some of the information would be kept. “If you are an existing Whaleoil subscriber the new site will honour your subscription at the new site. Just visit The BFD and login. We hope you will.”
Various subscription and membership offers were available to Whaleoil readers. It is unclear if payments from readers are continuing along with their login access.
Many posts on TheBFD site are duplicates of those that were being posted on Whaleoil, starting from April 1 this year. For example, this post about the UN Global Migration pact is essentially identical on both TheBFD, and Whaleoil.net.nz, with slightly different text formatting.
Using the internet archiving Wayback Machine, it is clear that an identical version was also posted on Whaleoil.co.nz on April 1.
Atkins has set up three companies this year, prior to Social Media Consultants (the company behind Whaleoil) being put into liquidation. SMC went under owing more than $600,000 to various creditors, including businessman Matthew Blomfield who had a long feud with Slater, and former Conservative party leader Colin Craig.
Other political bloggers have picked up on the message posted by the liquidators. Writing on The Daily Blog, Martyn Bradbury said, “it will be interesting to see how long their BFD lasts with the liquidators on their tail.” And on Your NZ, Pete George posted the message without further comment.
Liquidator Victoria Toon has been approached for comment. Multiple attempts have been made to contact Juana Atkins, including by ringing TheBFD’s tip-line. The phone number is identical to the infamous tip-line that used to feature on Whaleoil.