Otago Daily Times

For­mer liq­uida­tor sent to jail for fraud, per­jury

- SAM HUR­LEY

AUCK­LAND: A for­mer Auck­land liq­uida­tor has been jailed for four years af­ter steal­ing $130,000 from two com­pa­nies he was act­ing for, com­mit­ting per­jury and ob­struct­ing a Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice (SFO) in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Geoffrey Martin Smith (67) was sen­tenced yes­ter­day fol­low­ing a judge­alone trial in the Auck­land District Court ear­lier this year.

Af­ter de­fend­ing him­self dur­ing the pro­ceed­ing, Smith was found guilty by Judge Russell Collins in Septem­ber of two charges of theft by a per­son in a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship, two counts of per­jury and two charges of ob­struct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Smith, who claimed he was im­mune from prose­cu­tion and the SFO had de­famed him, was found to have stolen about $130,000 from two com­pa­nies, HAD Gar­ments and HB Gar­ments, af­ter be­ing ap­pointed liq­uida­tor in 2013.

The com­pa­nies were known as truck shops and sold goods out of lor­ries on credit terms re­quir­ing small pay­ments over many months.

Smith’s per­jury charges were over doc­u­ments he filed in civil pro­ceed­ings con­cern­ing the same liq­ui­da­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

The ob­struc­tion charges were for his in­ten­tional fail­ure to com­ply with two sep­a­rate no­tices is­sued by the SFO dur­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Af­ter sen­tenc­ing, SFO director Julie Read said Smith abused his po­si­tion of trust to de­fraud the two com­pa­nies.

‘‘He also ac­tively mis­led the court in pro­ceed­ings re­lat­ing to those com­pa­nies and ob­structed an SFO in­ves­ti­ga­tion,’’ she said in a state­ment.

‘‘These of­fences re­sulted in ad­di­tional pub­lic funds be­ing spent to re­solve this case.

‘‘The SFO wel­comes the court’s sen­tenc­ing de­ci­sion, which recog­nised the se­ri­ous­ness of the per­jury and ob­struc­tion charges.’’

Smith is al­ready be­hind bars for un­re­lated drug of­fend­ing and has a lengthy court his­tory.

He was made bank­rupt by the High Court for a third time in 2017 af­ter fail­ing to pay the re­ceiver of HAD Gar­ments and HB Gar­ments, BDO’s An­drew McKay, some $595,775.

The ma­jor­ity of the owed debt — $540,000 — was linked to when he was act­ing as the com­pa­nies’ liq­uida­tor, court doc­u­ments ob­tained by The New Zealand Her­ald show.

Smith was or­dered to re­pay the re­ceiver af­ter a High Court rul­ing in 2016 found that while Smith was liq­uida­tor, $852,998 was dis­persed from the com­pa­nies’ ac­counts but $540,000 could not be ac­counted for.

He was also made bank­rupt in 1989 and 2008.

Smith’s past of­fences also in­clude tax fraud, doc­u­ment forgery and theft.

In a re­sponse to pre­vi­ous Her­ald re­quests for comment, Smith has said his name was ‘‘reg­is­tered, copy writ­ten and solely pri­vately owned’’ and de­manded pay­ment for its use. He has claimed the Her­ald al­ready owed him some $50 mil­lion. — The New Zealand Her­ald

WELLINGTON: A New Zealand trade spe­cial­ist is wel­com­ing Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s state­ments about his de­sire to open trade doors with the world.

Ad­dress­ing Apec lead­ers on Thurs­day, Mr Xi promised he would cut tar­iffs and in­di­cated he wanted to forge new part­ner­ships.

Mr Xi said he had even reached out to the United States, declar­ing China did not want to get caught up in a trade war with Amer­ica.

 ?? PHOTO: SUP­PLIED ?? Mike Pero re­mains a brand am­bas­sador but is no longer a director or in­vestor in the com­pany that bears his name.
PHOTO: SUP­PLIED Mike Pero re­mains a brand am­bas­sador but is no longer a director or in­vestor in the com­pany that bears his name.

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