Judge: Ex can pursue money
A woman who aimed a financial kick in the teeth at her estranged husband may have to return money she took from business accounts belonging to the pair.
The withdrawals left one account in overdraft and in default to the Inland Revenue Department.
The High Court has ruled that prominent Palmerston North orthodontist Neil Tobin can pursue Sadie Tobin on behalf of companies the pair own to recover $223,393, which she withdrew from the bank and put into an account belonging to her mother and stepfather Lynn and John Cawood.
Associate Judge David Abbott says Mr Tobin can begin court action on behalf of N M Tobin Orthodontics and The Orthodontic Centre to recover the money.
N M Tobin Orthodontics Ltd was the trading side of the business, known as "The OC", while The Orthodontic Centre Ltd, now called Tin Holdings Ltd, owns the Church St property.
Both Tobins are directors and minority shareholders in the two companies, with the Neil and Sadie Family Trust owning the biggest slices.
Mr Tobin is continuing to operate under a new company using N M Tobin Orthodontic's assets. Mrs Tobin worked in the administration side of the business, Associate Judge Abbott said.
The pair separated in early 2012 and the judge said they were no longer together by February 27, about two months after Mr Tobin was injured in a serious car crash.
On February 17 and 20, Mrs Tobin transferred two lots of $75,000 from the business account to the Cawoods and followed that up by transferring $70,000 on March 21. On that day she also transferred $3393 from the property company.
"All the transfers were affected via internet banking, and without the prior knowledge or agreement of Mr Tobin," Associate Judge Abbott said.
"The effect of the transfers was that the account of the operating company was overdrawn by $163,217. The transfers were possible because the operating company had an overdraft facility."
The business account was also left unable to pay $32,533 GST.
Mr Tobin argued his wife made the withdrawals without his consent and the Cawoods had "no lawful entitlement" to the money.
Mrs Tobin said the companies' purpose was to financially benefit her and her estranged husband and the pair had a "mutually accepted" practice of drawing money from the companies when needed.