Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Crafar deal planner on insolvency charges

Vinay Deobhakta. Photo / APN
Vinay Deobhakta. Photo / APN

The high-profile former barrister behind a bid by farmer Alan Crafar to reclaim his dairy empire is facing insolvency charges and has been barred from leaving the country.

Vinay Deobhakta, 43, of Tauranga, appeared in Hamilton District Court yesterday - the morning after featuring on Campbell Live about his hand in a planned Crafar buy-back.

Deobhakta, who is not practising law and was declared bankrupt in December 2009, is facing five insolvency charges laid by the Ministry of Economic Development in March.

Campbell Live reported that Deobhakta and two assistants were "working fulltime putting a deal together" to help Mr Crafar recover the 16 farms he once owned.

The 8000ha of farmland came up for sale after the controlling companies run by Mr Crafar collapsed in 2009, owing $240 million.

Deobhakta told Campbell Live he was "certainly capable" of raising the cash needed to buy back the farms and would be "leading a group of investors to help Alan".

He said that "money's not going to be an issue" and the funds would be coming from a group of mainly New Zealand private investors.

Explaining why he was helping Mr Crafar, Deobhakta said: "He's a friend of mine, he's a true-blue New Zealander, a red-blooded Kiwi, I have empathy for him and his family ..."

In 2009, Deobhakta levelled serious complaints of corruption at Immigration New Zealand's New Delhi office, alleging an officer had demanded a $282,000 bribe to get 47 Indians into New Zealand.

Authorities declined to disclose details of the charges against him for legal reasons, but court documents show two were laid after Deobhakta allegedly left NZ twice between April and July last year without the permission of the Official Assignee.

The ministry also alleged that in separate instances last year, Deobhakta "wilfully misled" the Official Assignee by not disclosing he had a British passport, failed to appear in court when summonsed and refused to "fully answer all proper questions put to him" at an examination.

During yesterday's sentencing indication, the court heard that Deobhakta had applied for travel documents but was rejected.

It is likely he could be discharged without conviction under Section 106 of the Sentencing Act if he makes a donation to a trust.

Last night, Deobhakta said he went to India after police there asked him to help establish charges against the immigration officer.

His relationship with the Official Assignee was a strained one and he had been under pressure to "sort the mess out", he said.

He was confident the charges would not affect securing investors for the Crafar farms deal.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 29 Jul 2014 15:37:38 Processing Time: 573ms