Corbel Construction sub contractors and suppliers are outraged that the directors of the failed company will be paid ahead of them.

The company was working on projects in Christchurch and leaky apartments in Parnell, Auckland when directors and shareholders Mark Wells and Craig Jones put it in liquidation in December.

Months before the collapse trusts controlled by Wells and Jones loaned Corbel $960,000. The loans were protected by a legal security agreement that puts them ahead of the 250 out-of-pocket subcontractors and suppliers. The trusts have been repaid about $100,000 so far.

Charlie Feary who owns a drain laying company owed $60,000 said it made him so angry to think about it he had to "let it go".

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"I've cut my losses. We were a two year old company. We've survived and I'm still employing four guys but we've had to work harder to make it up. It's basically someone's wages for a year.

"I did some research on Corbel and was told their credit was good so I don't know what I could have done.

Sub contractor, Richard Bendall of Apolon, owed about $120,000, was working on leaky apartments in Auckland, and said he had been unable to keep all staff.

"It seems odd directors they can do that. It's hard for a small company like ours and we're working hard to get ourselves back into a positive situation."

Bendell said laws passed in 2017 requiring sub contractors' retention payments be put in a trust account had not helped in this case. Retentions money is held back by a client or head contractor to ensure defects are fixed.

Liquidator Andrew Oorschot of Ashton Wheelans said Corbel sub contractors were owed $1.5 million in retentions but $1.2m was not covered by the legislation and was just part of the unsecured claims.

"We are continuing to pursue the directors regarding this matter ... they have an obligation to make good this shortfall," Oorschot said.

Oorschot said the directors' trusts had put the $960,000 into the company in March 2017 to reduce the first ranking bank debt owed to BNZ. The bank's remaining $226,000 had been repaid in full.

The directors' trusts had been repaid $100,000 and were still owed $860,000 plus interest, but were unlikely to be fully repaid, Oorschot said.

Directors sought liquidation after the body corporate for the Parnell Apartments won a $600,000 award against Corbel last year.

Body corporate chairman Michael Reid said it had been another blow for 81 apartment owners facing a $26m fix up.

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A handful of owners were bankrupt and there might be more because the body corporate would have to pursue them for the repair money, he said.

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