Man behind EQC postings has chequered past
The Christchurch businessman behind online postings warning the public about Earthquake Commission (EQC) staff has a chequered past.
The commission was yesterday considering legal action over several online postings made by Consumer Advocates Ltd, a Christchurch company that acts on behalf of people disputing EQC claims.
Consumer Advocates posted names and photographs of EQC engineers online and advised people to deny the engineers entry to their property.
The Press can reveal the businessman behind the company, Victor Cattermole, has a colourful history.
Companies Office records show that more than 20 businesses that Cattermole has been involved in over the past 10 years have been struck off the register or liquidated.
He has had many run-ins over the years with the Securities Commission, including one where it was claimed his Hong Kong-based investment company, Endeavour Plan, was involved in pyramid selling and the Commerce Commission said the company plan risked breaching the Fair Trading Act.
The Securities Commission also banned advertising in New Zealand for Endeavour Plan. The commission said that potential investors could be misled by some Endeavour advertisements stating:
- That the plan complied with the Unit Trust Act when it did not.
- That the Guardian Trust and BZW & Barclay were the plan's fund managers when neither company was in place.
In 2010, Cattermole, through Endeavour Plan, expressed interest in buying out the debt-laden English Premier League football club Portsmouth.
He said he could raise $400 million to save the team. However, a week later the deal fell through.
Cattermole was found guilty in the Christchurch District Court on two charges of unlawfully using documents in 2005.
The Crown prosecutor said Cattermole employed a computer software engineer to work on developing websites, but soon failed to pay him nearly $20,000.
Cattermole said he would pay and signed his 1992 Mercedes 500 into the engineer's name as security on the debt.
But it remained unpaid, so in early January the engineer told Cattermole he would sell the car and give him any money left over.
The engineer arranged to meet Cattermole, but when he turned up, Cattermole was nowhere to be found.
A few weeks later, Cattermole changed the ownership back into his own name and signed the software engineer's name on ownership papers as the seller.
It was not his first brush with the law.
In 1994, Cattermole signed a $1m deal to buy Wellington's Erskine College and moved into a flat on the Catholic school's grounds.
A year later, after the deal fell through, the High Court had to order him to move out.
An online CV for Cattermole described him as a "director/owner of seven international companies, author, coach and mentor to many CEOs and business owners".
It said he had a "high level of integrity, commitment and energy which is often required when operating in difficult or challenging environments".
His CV also said one of his latest companies, Sino New Zealand Construction Ltd, was "poised to make a big difference in the rebuild of Christchurch, New Zealand, following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011".
Sino Construction went into receivership in May.
Cattermole was not able to be reached this morning.
The EQC yesterday said it was considering legal action against the company because it believed the company's online postings may be defamatory.
"EQC is in discussions with our legal advisers on action we can take over what we view as defamatory statements and on what steps we can take to protect our staff from harm as they go about their jobs," spokesman Bruce Emson said.
''It is also worth remembering that Victor Cattermole, as a person running a for-profit advocacy service, stands to financially benefit from encouraging customers into a position where they do not engage directly with EQC staff.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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