Rob Strickland starts new firm

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2014
Rob Strickland
Fairfax NZ
PAY UP, ROB: Former bankrupt Chirstchurch businessman Rob strickland is frustrating his creditors and contractors once again.

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Christchurch building firm owner Rob Strickland has started a new company despite claims by subcontractors worth more than $100,000 against his previous company.

Strickland owns Edifice Ltd, which closed its doors last week as contractors began complaining about being not paid.

Records show Strickland registered a new company, Blaze Recruitment, on July 25 - about the same time Edifice's financial difficulties became known.

Garrit van Veen, of Southern Lakes Scaffolds, said it was owed more than $30,000 by Edifice.

He was shocked to hear Strickland, a discharged bankrupt, was starting a new company.

"That's just unbelievable," van Veen said.

"We're a small company, and we'll survive this, but $30,000 is a lot of money."

Strickland's ability to register a new company "makes a joke of our laws as well", he said.

PWC insolvency expert John Fisk said there was no law to prevent Strickland starting a new company, even if his other company had not paid its debts.

"Phoenix company" rules impose penalties for directors who put companies into liquidation and start a new company with a similar name but it was unlikely Strickland would be covered by those, he said.

Van Veen said Southern Lakes Scaffolds had issued a statutory demand for payment through a lawyer and said if Strickland did not come through by the end of the week, he would pursue liquidation.

Canterbury Demolition director Lionel Green said he was owed $29,000 by Strickland for jobs he completed and invoiced in April.

Green said his firm had also issued a statutory demand through a lawyer, giving Edifice 15 days to pay up or face liquidation through the High Court.

David Beaumont, of Beaumont Roofing, said the roofing company was owed $8500 and was still hoping to be paid.

Another contractor, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear it could hurt his chances of getting paid, said he was owed $25,000.

"He shouldn't be able to just gap it and start up a new company," he said.

When Strickland was asked if he was starting up a new company, he replied with a written statement: "No, we are not starting another construction company due to the difficulty of running such a business in the difficult and challenging Christchurch rebuild environment."

Blaze Recruitment has advertisements on Trade Me seeking plasterers, painters, carpenters, bricklayers and labourers.

The Press spoke to four Filipino workers who had left Edifice, all saying there was at least a week's work unpaid.

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Several said they had been given sudden "termination notices" from Strickland, leaving them terrified they would lose their visas along with their jobs.

One worker said, when he was told his job had been terminated, he was given a letter offering him new employment with Blaze Recruitment as a painter. The offer is signed by Strickland.

- The Press

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