Settlement unlikely in repayment fight

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012

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Embattled merchant banker Sam Kelt is being pursued for a personal guarantee of nearly $400,000.

Wellington-based company Project Eight, run by Jason Deane and Jeremy Smith, claims it is owed the sum by Kelt, who personally guaranteed a loan made to an undisclosed entity.

But Kelt says he was a co-guarantor with developer Jonathan Wallace, against whom he is considering taking legal action.

Project Eight's lawyer, Daniel Kerr, said the proceeding had been adjourned last month to allow time for settlement discussions. "It now appears there is no prospect of settlement," he said.

Discussions broke down very early and it was agreed that, if settlement could not be reached, Kelt would file a notice of opposition to the debt and an affidavit, Kerr said.

He had not done so and timetable directions now needed to be made. Kelt's lawyer, Luke Dineen, said he had been instructed that "there were several complicating factors", including related proceedings that were to be filed in Hastings District Court by a company associated with Project Eight.

"Those proceedings have not yet been served on the defendant and it may be that it is more efficient for the parties and the court for those proceedings to be consolidated," Dineen said.

Associate Judge David Gendall told Dineen it was "a simple claim based on a guarantee of a term loan agreement of nearly $400,000, which the defendant guaranteed.

"On its face it seems to be a simple debt-recovery matter, unless there is some complex defence that might materialise."

Dineen said Kelt was one of two guarantors to the debt in question. "The other guarantor has not been sued in this matter and the defendant is considering issuing proceedings against the other guarantor, Jonathan Wallace."

Judge Gendall said there was no prospect of settlement and gave Kelt until November 29 to file a notice of opposition to the summary judgment application.

Project Eight then has until December 12 to file a response before the matter is called again on December 13 to set a hearing date.

Smith and Deane are co-owners of the Trinity Group, which has a number of bars and restaurants in Wellington, Palmerston North and Hawke's Bay.

The pair and Kelt were formerly joint directors of Kelt Trinity, which was liquidated in 2010.

Jonathan Wallace, managing director of Wallace Developments, is also a director of the Trinity Group and was a director of Kelt Trinity.

Kelt could not be contacted yesterday.

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- The Dominion Post

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