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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