State-owned Southern Ports and two of its senior executives have been caught up in a Supreme Court probe into the collapse last year of Chinese-backed exporter Vicstock Grain. Victstock liquidators on Monday gained almost unfettered access to sensitive documents as part of a probe into dealings surrounding an Albany port grain storage and handling shed built by the failed company. The liquidators are not only using their Corporations Act public examination powers to get hold of internal documents possibly linked to Southern Ports’ decision in July 2019 to terminate Vicstock’s Albany lease. They are also using their examination powers to probe Southern Ports’ possible intervention in Vicstock’s problems gaining access to vital shiploading equipment owned by neighbouring lease holder Albany Bulk Handling. Southern Ports commercial managers Robin DeVries and Jared Brotherston have been hit with a summons. Southern Ports refused to renew the floundering Vicstock’s lease in July 2019, claiming the emerging player failed to meet minimum export requirements. With tens of millions in funding from Chinese agricultural group Heilongjiang Feng, Vicstock developed its 25,000 tonnes of grain storage space at the south-eastern end of Albany port. Heilongjiang and Vicstock had ambitious plans to be major grain exporters from WA. Heilongjang bought thousands of hectares of farms across the Wheatbelt in an $85 million buying spree seven years ago. But the Chinese company later leased its land to farmers and its Australian affiliate was unable to get any grain out of its shed next to Albany Port’s berth six. Vicstock fell into liquidation in May last year with $60m of debts and less than $50,000 in recoverable assets. In their report to creditors last year outlining the companies dire financial position, the liquidators blamed the collapse on Southern Ports’ decision to terminate the Albany lease. The summons to Mr DeVries included all records of internal discussions in late 2016 or early 2017 referring to Southern Ports arranging a meeting between Vicstock and the Transport Minister’s office about the company’s operations. The summons also covered records of discussions about extending the lease, and Southern Ports requiring Vicstock to formally request a meeting with woodchip handler Albany Bulk Handling to request access to its shiploader. The Supreme Court was given a USB on Friday containing more than 200 documents. Southern Ports lawyer Cal Doran went to the court yesterday asking for broad confidentiality orders to protect the documents. Opposing the restrictions, the liquidators’ lawyer David Suttner said the Corporations Act did not anticipate extra limitations being placed on liquidators carrying out examinations. He said the court’s rules were sufficient to protect the documents, which could be used in the public examination of witnesses and then might become publicly available. Registrar Prue Griffin said she was not persuaded special orders were required.