Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Daughter helps dad fight for fortune

Sir Owen battles for control of millions

Jennifer Connah, daughter of embattled Kiwi magnate and Warriors co-owner Sir Owen Glenn.
Jennifer Connah, daughter of embattled Kiwi magnate and Warriors co-owner Sir Owen Glenn.

Sir Owen Glenn's $400million court battle has spread to the Caribbean tax haven of Nevis, where his daughter has been drawn into the bitter fight for control of his fortune.

Last week, the Herald on Sunday revealed that Sir Owen was suing business associates David Miller and Peter Dickson in California, alleging he had been duped into ceding control of family trusts containing his personal fortune.

Sir Owen, co-owner of the Warriors rugby league team, is suing them for $400m — the amount he can no longer access in those trusts.

Now it can be reported his daughter, Jennifer Diane Connah, filed an associated lawsuit in the High Court in Nevis to remove Miller and Dickson as trustees of the Corona and Regency Trusts, in which most of Sir Owen's fortune is kept. The trusts are based in Nevis.

She won and the pair were removed last August. Law firm Harneys was appointed as independent trustees.

But in a twist, Miller and Dickson, who deny any wrongdoing, were granted leave to appeal the Nevis High Court decision late last year. Their appeal is due to be heard next month in Nevis.

A key claim in Sir Owen's testimony in California is that he unwittingly lost control of the trusts after he was not made a trustee or a beneficiary when they were set up by Miller. He says he made it clear he wanted to retain control.

That led to some funding for $80m of charity work he promised in New Zealand to dry up.

His domestic abuse inquiry is ongoing, but many community groups in Otara are no longer getting money.

The Nevis court action has led to delays in Sir Owen's Californian lawsuit, as lawyers on both side trade barbs and seek disclosure material.

Lawyers acting for Miller have requested all correspondence between Sir Owen and his daughter, but Sir Owen is refusing to hand over the documents, citing attorney-client privilege.

Miller has also sought leave to travel to Nevis to take depositions from four lawyers acting for Harneys.

The court battle has exposed some of the inner workings of Sir Owen's vast financial empire. Court documents contain the names of a global network of trusts and financial advisers based in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands.

Sir Owen, Miller and Dickson have declined to comment.

Connah, one of six of Sir Owen's children from two marriages, did not respond to requests for comment.


Rich ... but not that rich

Sir Owen's real net worth is about half of the $900million regularly quoted in the National Business Review's annual Rich List, court documents indicate.

He first appeared on the NBR Rich List in 2005 when he was quoted as having a $1.1billion fortune, and placed fourth on the list.

His estimated wealth has been stagnant at $900m for the past three years.

But in papers filed with the California Superior Court, Sir Owen's lawyer, Amy K. Bell, of Loeb & Loeb, has revealed almost his entire estate was put out of his control.

That is estimated to be around $400m.

Sir Owen has stated he was never a billionaire.

In his book Making a Difference he writes that, "Even though I'm constantly referred to as a billionaire, I've actually never been one. It's only quite recently that I could even put $50million together."


Nevis facts

• Population: 51,538 (July 2014 est.) CIA World Factbook says it is a favourite haven of international investors who set up "asset protection trusts" to keep money out of the reach of creditors and overseas court orders.

• Nevis, the Cook Islands and Isle of Man are the three jurisdictions in the world to strongly favour the offshore asset protection trusts.

- Herald on Sunday

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