A "nasty family dispute" has developed between embattled merchant banker Sam Kelt and his sister over the horse stud they sold earlier this year for more than $1 million.
It is the latest setback for Kelt, who was recently told by receivers that he must vacate his Hastings offices by October 14.
Kelt's sister, Sue Foote, and her husband, Stuart, have applied to liquidate Keltern Stud Ltd, a company they owned jointly with Kelt and his wife, Belinda.
At issue is a debt the Footes claim is owed to them by the company. However, Kelt's lawyer, Nick Russell, said the debt would be "vigorously disputed".
The 37-hectare stud farm and three-bedroom house, south of Hastings, sold for $1.35m in February.
The Foote's application to liquidate the company was heard in the High Court at Napier last week.
Russell applied for an extension of time to respond to the application, but that was opposed.
Foote's lawyer, Jol Bates, asked Associate Judge Robert Osborne that the matter be heard.
Russell said "the background to the proceeding obviously has all the hallmarks of a rather nasty family dispute". An affidavit filed by the Footes a day earlier raised "some really quite alarming allegations that would merit or require a response in the interest of natural justice".
He was not willing for the hearing to be held until Kelt had an opportunity to respond. He said the affidavit also made it clear there would need to be evidence from the company's accountant.
He said it was Kelt's assertion that the company and its sole director, Kelt, were solvent.
The judge said the Footes "had flagged the fact that it was as much about winding up on just and equitable grounds as it is a money dispute, which it clearly is when one reads the affidavit".
The judge said the matter "cried out for mediation and not being fought out in this jurisdiction", which "would inevitably involve cross-examination of family members" and raised "slightly horrific implications in terms of rights of cross-examination and so on".
He suggested a hearing date be set and encouraged counsel to consider mediation "and work out the whole fate of the company rather than taking up the time of the court".
He set a hearing date for November. The hearing will not be for the substantive application for company liquidation.
Receivers Staples Rodway Chartered Accountants have given Kelt until October 14 to vacate his Hastings offices. The property is owned by another of Kelt's companies, Manhatten Services. The property, rather than the company, is the subject of the receivership.
Receiver Gareth Hoole said Kelt had been allowed to remain in the building on a month-by-month basis after paying some of $20,000 he owed in rent arrears.
Hoole said yesterday that Kelt had not paid for September and had been issued a notice to vacate the building.
Kelt could not be contacted.
- The Dominion Post