Heliworks ex-shareholders may seek further funds
Heliworks' accountant says former shareholders may take civil action to recover further funds they believe they are owed by their former manager, David Kershaw.
Kershaw has declined to comment on the claims.
Speaking on behalf of the company owners, accountant Roger Wilson said they had been through a nightmarish five years, culminating in Kershaw's sentencing on Monday on eight charges of dishonesty and theft totalling $32,500.
In late June, Heliworks changed hands when former one-third shareholder Te Anau-based Richard "Hannibal" Hayes and his wife, Carol, bought the company outright.
Mr Hayes declined to comment on the new company but referred The Southland Times to Mr Wilson, who began acting for Heliworks after Kershaw left the company, for comment about Kershaw's conviction.
Mr Wilson claimed Kershaw had wrongfully spent $220,000 through the business, which was also about the same amount as the shareholder's loan Kershaw had made to the company.
Those issues had been resolved, Mr Wilson said.
But Mr Wilson claimed there was $32,000 still outstanding.
He said Mr Kershaw had returned some goods worth about $2000, but the shareholders were considering seeking the remaining amount as well as some legal fees via arbitration or civil action.
The shareholders were also angry about Kershaw's claims made in court that the company was not in good shape when he took on the job as manager.
"They had shareholder equity when Kershaw went in there and it had negative equity by the time he finished," Mr Wilson said.
"The bulk of those losses were on offshore contracts which I think it is fair to say were solely managed by Kershaw."
Kershaw's defence lawyers also claimed substantial losses could be attributed to poor decisions by the board and shareholders, citing a $2 million failed contract in the Solomon Islands.
But former shareholder Brian Hore claimed that was not true.
"We built up a lot of equity in that company very quickly and it was very sharply ran down because of his overseas commitments and bad management of one overseas contract in particular," Mr Hore said.
He claimed that Kershaw was in control of the overseas contracts.
Mr Wilson said the offending had been particularly difficult because of the close nature of their personal relationships.
"The disappointing thing was this guy was a personal friend of theirs. Kershaw was Hannibal's best man. They were not only business colleagues but good friends."
Mr Hore said he had sold his shares to Mr Hayes to enable a restructuring of the company.
"We decided we really wanted to restructure the company and I was really wanting out. Age comes in to it a lot.
"Richard was keen to carry it on and let Robert and myself out."
Shareholders Robert and Linda Butson declined to comment and another shareholder, Russell Bell, could not be reached for comment.
Kershaw declined to comment regarding the further claims when contacted.
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