The developer of the Waldorf Celestion apartments hotel at the foot of Anzac Avenue in Auckland, Tasman Cook Group Ltd owner Leonard Ross, and 3 associates were remanded in the Auckland District Court today until 22 June, on 4 Crimes Act counts of obtaining by deception and 2 of using forged documents, with the expectation that the case will be sent to the High Court for a jury trial.
Mr Ross (50) is living in Melbourne and was excused from appearing in court today. One of the other defendants whose name is suppressed was also excused from appearing.
The other 2 defendants, company director Michael Wehipeihana (45) & self-employed consultant Vaughn Foster (54), appeared in court and were remanded on bail.
The charges arose in relation to allegedly making false statements & using forged documents to obtain a credit facility from ANZ Bank NZ Ltd to allow the project company, Emily Projects Ltd, to develop the Waldorf Celestion, which opened in 2009. It’s alleged that a loan facility of about $40 million was obtained.
Emily Projects, 88% owned by Mr Ross, went into voluntary liquidation on 22 December 2011. Original liquidator Chris Horton was replaced in 2014 by Tim Downes & Greg Sherriff (Grant Thornton), who said in their final report in 2015 they’d recovered $610,244 of assets. 2 unsecured creditors claimed $671,000 and 53 investor claims totalled $2,890,951.
The one distribution to unsecured creditors was 11.8c in the dollar for a total $420,310.
The whole project was controversial because Mr Ross, who’d developed property for Mark Bryers’ Blue Chip NZ Ltd, acquired the Celestion site at mortgagee sale from a lender to Blue Chip.
A Blue Chip company bought the 1081m² site between Anzac Ave & Emily Place, on the eastern fringe of the cbd, for $4 million in 2004 and it was transferred in 2006 for $10.9 million to another of Mr Bryers’ companies.
Under Blue Chip, the development was known as the Emily and it was to have had 149 units. 85 were sold and investors paid an estimated $11.2 million in deposits.
Emily Projects bought the property after it was put up for mortgagee sale in 2008 by the NZ Guardian Trust Co Ltd, owed $4.475 million. The purchase price covered the Guardian Trust debt and Guardian Trust stayed in behind ANZ Banking Group Ltd as second mortgagee on the new project.
17 February 2017: SFO alleges fraud in Celestion development loan deal
9 October 2009: Apartments at centre of Blue Chip case go on market
8 May 2009: Ross’ Emily Projects starts work on ex-Blue Chip site
Attribution: Court hearing.