Wang lawyer quits over unpaid fees

By Susie Nordqvist

Lawyer Paul Sills is not longer representing bankrupt businesswoman May Wang, because she has not paid her legal bills.
Photo / Greg Bowker
Lawyer Paul Sills is not longer representing bankrupt businesswoman May Wang, because she has not paid her legal bills. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Ministry of Economic Development's bid to have bankrupt businesswoman May Wang convicted on false accounting charges has hit a stumbling block, after it emerged this week her lawyer had quit the case because his client hadn't paid her legal bills.

Wang made a brief appearance in the Auckland District Court this week to seek an adjournment to the case while she asks that a freezing order of her Hong Kong assets be amended so she can free up money to fight the charges and pay lawyer Paul Sills.

Wang is accused of failing to keep adequate accounting records for her failed Dynasty hotel Group, failing to supply the liquidator with information about the business accounts of the group and assist with the liquidation to the best of her ability.

Judge Harvey remanded the matter to a phone conference for two weeks' time so Wang can settle her unpaid bills to Paul Sills, but warned that he would not tolerate anymore 'fabian tactics'.

"The concern I have is it would be fair to draw the inference that Ms Wang is reluctant to face up to the charges," Judge Harvey said.

The matter has already been adjourned a number of times since the charges were brought by the Ministry of Economic Development more than two-and-a-half years ago.

The defended hearing, which was set down for three days this week, is now not likely to be heard until at least April next year, the court heard.

Wang is also facing bribery and money-laundering charges brought by the Hong Kong commission earlier this year over dealings said to have happened while she was trying to buy the dairy farms once owned by the Crafar family in New Zealand.

The anti-corruption unit in Hong Kong alleges Wang and Jack Chen, known as Chen Keen, conspired between May 2009 and December 2010 to offer two Auckland properties and more than HK$73 million ($NZ11.8m) to Chen as payment for procuring Hong Kong stock exchange-listed Natural Dairy to acquire UBNZ Asset Holdings, which was owned by Wang.

Wang's Hong Kong based lawyer Graham Harris, who is representing her on the corruption charges, was in court yesterday to assist Wang's interim lawyer, John Cagney, with the New Zealand case and to instruct him to seek an adjournment to the MOED charges.

Asked whether he had paid his own way to New Zealand given Wang's predicament, Harris said he had not, but that there was 'nothing stopping well-wishers helping out'.

Wang refused to comment on the matter.

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