Maureen and Kelvin Manley were inadvertently landed in a web of deceit when Pat Norris took over the liquidation of the firm they were investors in.
Norris was the sole director of Nelson-based liquidation company Norris Management Services Ltd.
The Manleys were investors in multi-faceted business advisory firm, Astra Enterprises. They were left almost $32,000 out of pocket by Norris' actions, believing he had simply conned their accountant who had initially been handling the firm's liquidation.
"Our retirement is stuffed," Mr Manley said outside the Nelson District Court yesterday after watching the sentencing of the firm's figurehead.
Nelson MP Nick Smith, who earlier used parliamentary privilege to raise his concerns about Norris after more than a dozen constituents had visited him to discuss their concerns over the past two to three years, said yesterday there would be "many Nelsonians relieved" by both the guilty verdict and the penalty.
The Manleys, who are Upper Moutere superannuitants, had little faith they would ever see all their money back despite yesterday's reparation order which meant they got $5000 immediately of almost $32,000 owed to them, with the balance to be paid at $100 a week.
Astra Enterprises went into receivership in 2008 and had $80,960 in a solicitor's trust account to pay a small number of creditors. In 2009 Norris took over the liquidation from Nelson accountant Christine Johnston who had been handling her first liquidation, but the Manleys did not know Norris.
They detected trouble when they tried to contact him, and their suspicions were confirmed during early publicity about him. A lawyer they knew in Auckland told them not to worry.
"Half the time we could never get hold of Norris," Mr Manley said.
Mrs Manley said when the bottom fell out of the situation they were dumbfounded to learn what had transpired.
"I didn't know a liquidator could take money out of a lawyer's trust account," she said.
Mrs Manley said she would have liked to have seen Norris go to prison, but then they would never get their money back.
The Manleys said it had been a most stressful year, but they were glad it was all over. They said the money they hoped to get back would be used to pay debts incurred through them being out of pocket.
Dr Smith said Norris' actions reinforced the need for reform to ensure liquidations and receiverships were carried out fairly.
Legislation was progressing through Parliament that would tighten rules governing these processes.
- © Fairfax NZ News