Police have laid charges against a drainage firm boss for allegedly defrauding Christchurch residents of almost $170,000.
Alleged victims of Alligator Drainage director Graham Daniel Lilley have welcomed the charges, with one pensioner saying she hopes he goes to jail.
The company, which was based in New Brighton, started working in Christchurch after the earthquakes.
It allegedly told customers the Earthquake Commission (EQC) would reimburse them for quake-damaged drain repairs done by the company without prior authorisation. It allegedly provided quotes after survey work and asked for large deposits, normally half the contract price, from the customers.
EQC issued a warning about the practice last November, urging householders to ensure work was authorised before engaging a contractor to undertake earthquake repairs.
Lilley, 35, appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with 16 counts of obtaining by deception.
The charges relate to 16 Christchurch victims, some of them elderly, who lost between $1000 and $20,000 each between August and October 2013.
The amounts totalled $168,349.
Six of the charges were jointly laid against the company's former chief executive, Kevin John Davies, who appeared yesterday in the Auckland District Court.
Victims yesterday welcomed the criminal charges.
A 79-year-old woman said it was "great - but it's not going to get my $8000 back is it".
"He [Lilley] could talk the hind leg off a donkey. I'm pretty old and I thought, gosh my sewer has got to be done. I foolishly signed up."
Workers cut up her new driveway before she decided to cancel the job. By then, the cheque had already been cashed.
"I hope he goes to jail."
Another elderly woman, who paid the company nearly $3000 for drain repairs, was "very pleased" police had charged both men.
"This needs to be brought out again. You trust people and that's that," said the woman, who asked not to be named.
Lilley was granted electronically monitored bail and was remanded, without plea, to appear in the Christchurch District Court on June 18.
The company's liquidator, appointed in March, plans to interview Lilley under oath in the coming weeks. Davies, who resigned from the company in November, was remanded to appear again in the Auckland District Court on June 17.
Waterstone Insolvency officer Kieran Jones said that 20 unsecured creditors had lodged debts totalling $478,000.
They included Inland Revenue, which was a preferential creditor and had filed for $200,000.
The interview with Lilley would "canvass events that led to the eventual liquidation of the company", Jones said.
Alligator Drainage had not provided any bookwork or records from the company's operation, Jones said. Instead, the liquidator had relied on paperwork from creditors and the company's accountant.
"Generally companies come with books and records that they retain. So far, we've been provided with nothing," Jones said.
"Whether they've gone missing [or] been withheld from the liquidators, I'm not too sure.
"Thus far it would appear that it would be unlikely unsecured creditors will receive a distribution."
The company was placed receivership in January.
Jones said the liquidation would likely take 12 to 18 months.
- The Press