New liquidators to handle cases

The official assignee has appointed new liquidators to handle Nelson liquidator Pat Norris' four unfinished cases, following his fraud conviction.

Search orders were served yesterday at Norris' Mount St home and Haven Rd offices, and the new liquidators took away files and documents relating to the four liquidations.

Insolvency practitioner Rhys Cain and chartered accountant Bruce Gemmell, of Ernst and Young of Christchurch, were appointed by the official assignee to take over the cases following Norris' conviction for fraud this month. The outstanding cases Norris had were Trafalgar Tops, Murchison Buses, Frost Steel Compactors and Astra Enterprises.

Mr Cain said that under the legislation, the official assignee had to appoint an experienced liquidator to take over the liquidations.

He was not aware of a similar incident having happened in New Zealand before.

Following a judge-only trial this month, Judge Michael Behrens found that Norris had stolen $80,900 from the liquidation of Auckland company Astra Enterprises. He has yet to be sentenced on that charge.

The fraud conviction disqualified him from acting as a liquidator or a company director.

Norris had appointed his unqualified acquaintance Jack Churchill as liquidator for his remaining companies on October 16, following his conviction that day.

However, Mr Cain said Norris was not able to made the appointment, as he was disqualified as a liquidator from October 16.

Mr Cain, who has 25 years' experience handling liquidations and was previously the Official Assignee for the South Island, said it was the new liquidators' job to complete the liquidations. They were acting in the best interests of unsecured creditors and to ensure that everything had been done correctly.

The liquidators would also be acting in the interests of shareholders and directors of the companies, Mr Cain said. If there were any issues, and he did not know if there were any, appropriate action would be taken.

Mr Cain said he did not know how long it would take to finalise the liquidations. There were a lot of records to go through, and he would also need to have discussions with Norris about certain aspects of the liquidations to "get up to speed".

The liquidators would be reporting to all creditors, he said.

Nelson MP Nick Smith had previously raised concerns under parliamentary privilege about Norris, who is unqualified, acting as a liquidator.

Dr Smith is pushing for changes to the industry around who can act as a liquidator.

Any creditors of the four liquidation files with queries or concerns should contact Susan Fletcher at Ernst and Young, Mr Cain said. He said they should email first if possible.

Inquiries can be made to Sue Fletcher at Ernst and Young, P O Box 2091, email susan.fletcher@, ph 03 372 2242.