9 Dec 2010

Woman fronting bid for NZ farms declared bankrupt

1:55 pm on 9 December 2010

The woman at the centre of a Chinese bid to buy New Zealand dairy farms has been declared bankrupt.

May Wang leads a bid by Hong Kong-based Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings to buy the Crafar family farms which are in receivership.

The High Court in Auckland made the decision to bankrupt Ms Wang because of her failed property business the Dynasty Group, which collapsed in 2008, owing creditors $22.2 million.

Ms Wang had proposed to pay back her creditors six cents in the dollar - a deal which most agreed to.

But earlier this week, Associate Judge Hannah Sargisson rejected that deal on the basis that Ms Wang has not been forthright with creditors or the court about her financial situation.

Her lawyer Paul Sills lodged an application with the Court of Appeal over the judgement and asked the judge to delay her decision regarding bankruptcy until that had been heard.

But the judge dismissed that bid and declared Ms Wang bankrupt on Wednesday evening.

Ms Wang's affairs will now be in the hands of the Official Assignee.

Bankruptcy prevents company directorship

Insolvency lawyer at Chapman Tripp, Michael Arthur, says Ms Wang cannot be a company director, nor be involved in the management of any company.

However Mr Arthur says it must remembered that there is a difference between a company that might be embarking on a project and an individual associated with that firm, and that others could take over an individual's role.

He told Morning Report a person declared bankrupt cannot manage a business nor travel overseas without the Official Assignee's approval.

Mr Arthur says May Wang can work but some of her earnings would have to be diverted to her creditors.

Criminal trial delayed

Ms Wang's criminal trial regarding her failed property business has been delayed for six months.

She is facing three charges at the Auckland District Court in relation to the Dynasty Group.

The Companies Office has charged her for failing to keep adequate accounting records for the company and for leaving New Zealand to avoid investigation in 2008.

Her trial was due to begin in December, but lawyer Paul Sills requested the date be pushed back because of new information the Companies Office presented to him just days before the trial was due to start.

In court on Wednesday, the prosecutor and Mr Sills agreed to a new date in June next year. The trial is expected to take three days.