The revelation comes as the state government confirmed on Monday that 77 cases of coronavirus have now been linked to the Cedar Meats abattoir.
In 2016, Mr Hayes explained in his director’s report that the abattoir had suffered from a decline in livestock numbers and Cedar Foods had been unable to refinance.
He said he discovered the tax debt when he became a director in 2015, taking over from Mr Nassima.
Liquidator Nicholas Giasoumi wrote that he would explore the potential for an “unjust enrichment” claim against Cedar Meats.
On Monday, a spokeswoman for Cedar Meats said the company faced no legal claims from the collapse of Cedar Foods.
She described the relationship between the two companies as purely contractual: “Cedar Foods was the company that leased 690 Brooklyn Road and operated the meat processing facility.
“Cedar Meats purchased the livestock and sent that livestock to Cedar Foods to process.
“Cedar Foods was an independent contractor that leased the abattoir at the time. Cedar Meats then sold and exported the finished product.”
Aside from the tax office, Cedar Foods left debts owing to several other unsecured creditors.
A Melbourne surgeon has told The Age he is still owed money by Cedar Foods after treating injured workers from the abattoir.
The surgeon, who did not register as a creditor, said he had a number of unpaid WorkCover invoices for treating abattoir workers which were left owing when Cedar Foods was liquidated in 2016.
The doctor, who didn’t want to be named, said he had chased up the debt, only to be told that the company did not exist any more.
It’s unclear how many workplace accidents have occurred at the meat processing facility, as details of WorkCover claims are not released to the public.
Aisha Dow reports on health for The Age and is a former city reporter.
Richard Baker is a multi-award winning investigative reporter for The Age.