Official Assignee

Rodney Hide on insolvency and the wild west of the industry

Rodney Hide writes in the NBR of the gobsmacking arrogance of the Official Assignee, the lack of accountability and the general parlous state of insolvency.

I have hitherto reported the Official Assignee of New Zealand, Mandy McDonald, spending a gobsmacking $835,000 administering Jamie Peters’ bankruptcy.

I wanted to find out how she spent the money, first, to tell astonished NBR readers; second, to make an uninvited report to the minister; and third, to complain to the Auditor General.

I made a s.227(2) application under the Insolvency Act 2006 to inspect the Assignee’s accounting records.

I had a back-and-forth with a number of staff and finally received a “statement of receipts and payments” from Robert Rendle, Lead Business Registries, Legal Services, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The statement was three lines long. Now remember, the Official Assignee excused the $835,000 cost because Mr Peters’ bankruptcy was “complex.” And here it was, “sale of assets: $388.35; legal fees: $288.79; service of documents: $99.56.” That’s it.

That three-line statement of receipts and payments perfectly illustrates the lack of transparency of the New Zealand Insolvency Service.

The Official Assignee tells us how she spent the $388.35 she raised from Mr Peters’ estate but not the $835,000 plus of taxpayers’ money she spent getting it. Our spooks and spies are more forthcoming than the Official Assignee. And less intrusive.

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Bankruptcy is just a joke, really


Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims

A former rich-lister recently discharged from bankruptcy is heading back to court, facing charges including misleading authorities and concealing property.

Jamie Peters, who made the National Business Review Rich List in 2006 with an estimated fortune of $40 million, was declared bankruptin 2009 owing more than $100 million. Read more »