20 Nov 2023

Drylandcarbon bankers have case to answer - court

5:17 pm on 20 November 2023
Radiata pines have a harvest cycle of about 30 years.

Drylandcarbon was a carbon offset fund managed by Will Leckie and Chris Morrison's company, Lewis Tucker & Co. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

The Court of Appeal says two Wellington-based bankers have a case to answer over their roles as directors and partners in the Drylandcarbon management companies.

Drylandcarbon was a carbon offset fund managed by Will Leckie and Chris Morrison's company, Lewis Tucker & Co, on behalf of the 50-50 partnership they had with Ant and Wendy Beverley.

The' venture fell apart after difficulties over the management of Drylandcarbon's first fund, launched in 2019, and the parties went their separate ways.

However, Ant Beverley said Leckie and Morrison used Drylandcarbon's intellectual property to advance their own interests with a second fund - leaving the Beverleys out of the deal.

"We are determined to ensure that Messrs Morrison and Leckie are answerable for what we see as multiple serious breaches of their duties as directors," Beverley said.

"Wendy and I took the Drylandcarbon opportunity to Lewis Tucker in late 2017 in good faith, having spent six years designing and developing the structure and mechanics of the partnership and management opportunity."

This motion allowed the Beverleys to take their case against Leckie and Morrison to the High Court.

Leckie and Morrison said they were slightly disappointed about the outcome of the appeal, but remained confident in their position and welcomed the opportunity to present their case in court.

"Today's judgement has nothing to do with the underlying case and we welcome the opportunity to explore the real issues in court.

"As we have said before, we are disappointed that the relationship between the directors broke down, but we followed a very clear and robust process to protect investors in Drylandcarbon and the organisation's culture," they said.

"Given the case is now before the courts, we will not be making any comment on this process."

The case was unrelated to the current activities of Drylandcarbon and Forest Partners.