Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Business Insider: Aussie media sensation makes NZ move

Motor company executive at the centre of high-profile court case makes good on his plan to set up a New Zealand company.
Clyde Campbell is contesting claims that he mis-spent Fiat Chrysler Australia's money. Photo / News Corp
Clyde Campbell is contesting claims that he mis-spent Fiat Chrysler Australia's money. Photo / News Corp

The former boss of Fiat Chrysler Australia - accused of misusing tens of millions of dollars of company money - has made good on his business plans for this side of the Ditch.

Business Insider had assumed Clyde Campbell had called off the move, given the publicity which swarmed around the motoring executive last year.

But six months after Campbell got permission from an Australia court to shift his company across the Tasman, he has finally done so.

Companies Office records show that C. Campbell Holdings was established here in December, with its namesake as the sole director and shareholder.

Just what C. Campbell Holdings will be holding is still a mystery to Business Insider, though a court heard last year that he wanted to pour as much as A$1.5 million into a "distributorship and retail business venture" in this country.

In New Zealand, Campbell is best known as the former business partner of Kiwi automotive mogul Neville Crichton.

In his native Australia, however, he is better known as the man at the centre of the biggest controversy ever to hit the Aussie motoring industry.

Campbell became a media sensation last year after Fiat Chrysler Australia accused him of authorising excessive hospitality, entertainment and vehicle expenses for himself and others.

The company is claiming its former managing director breached his employment contract and failed to discharge his duties to the firm. It wants him to pay an unspecified amount in damages and compensation.

Campbell allegedly approved the purchase of cars for "celebrity ambassadors" Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley to use in Britain, even though the Australian wing of the vehicle manufacturer had no commercial presence in that country.

Fiat Chrysler also alleges it paid for trips to New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, and most of a New Zealand "golf and spa holiday" which Campbell took associates on.

Campbell allegedly approved the purchase of cars for 'celebrity ambassadors' Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley.

Campbell denies the allegations and is defending the case. He maintains that the deals he made were in the company's best interests and helped boost its sales.

Business Insider understands that a hearing date to test the claims has not yet been set.

Accounting connection

Despite a Wellington book-keeper falling foul of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants, at least one piece of business has come his way.

Brett Whyte - full name Colin Brett Whyte - is a director of tax and corporate advisory firm The Whyte Group.

Business Insider spotted that the Whyte Group is the registered office for the aforementioned C. Campbell Holdings and that its documents were presented to the Companies Office by one Brett Whyte.

Last August Whyte was removed as a member of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants after its disciplinary tribunal said he failed to pay tax when it was due and operated his practice while it was insolvent.

The tribunal also ordered Whyte to pay $38,000 in costs and declined his bid for name suppression.

Grant Harrison arrives at Southwark Crown Court. Photo / Bloomberg
Grant Harrison arrives at Southwark Crown Court. Photo / Bloomberg

Kiwi in London court

The trial of a former Bell Gully lawyer accused of insider trading in Britain is in full swing, with a jury so far hearing of an alleged conspiracy involving one man nicknamed "Fatty", another known as "Fruit", one called "The Jeweller" and a Swiss bank account called "Cheese".

New Zealand citizen Andrew Grant Harrison is among five defendants who are accused of using offshore accounts and encrypted portable hard drives to help with insider trading.

The alleged conspiracy was said to have netted £7.4 million, Bloomberg reported, and the investigation has been called the biggest insider-trading probe in British history.

Harrison, who was born in Britain but qualified as a lawyer in this country, enjoyed a stint as a commercial lawyer for top-shelf firm Bell Gully before moving into finance in England.

The trial is expected to run until April in London's Southwark Crown Court, which Business Insider notes is the same judicial arena where Wellington resident Darrell Read was recently cleared of charges alleging he conspired with others to rig the benchmark banking rate known as Libor.

Almost a decade after Capital+ Merchant collapsed, court action continues. Photo / Jason Dorday
Almost a decade after Capital+ Merchant collapsed, court action continues. Photo / Jason Dorday

Slow progress

The on-again, off-again lawsuit brought by the receivers of Capital+Merchant Finance against the company's former trustee and solicitors could finally see a courtroom in November.

The action, filed in 2012, is an attempt to recover money for the long-suffering investors of that finance company, which owed them $167 million when it failed in 2007.

KordaMentha, which is the receiver of Capital+Merchant Finance, is suing Perpetual Trust and law firm Stace Hammond for an alleged breach of duties.

The action concerns certain loans made by the firm, which Business Insider ranks among the worst from the sector's collapse last decade. That's not because of the amount lost, but because of the fraudulent conduct of two former directors, Neal Nicholls and Wayne Douglas.

The receivers' lawsuit, first due in the High Court in September 2014, was derailed for a year while the parties argued about whether they had in fact reached a settlement.

According to a report from joint receiver Brendon Gibson this week, it is now expected to be argued this November.

Given the twists and turns to date, Business Insider isn't holding his breath.

- NZ Herald

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