Masala mansions pulled from sale following asset freeze

By Lane Nichols, Hamish Fletcher

10 residences valued at $14m belonging to troubled restaurant empire are no longer up for mortgagee auction.
The Masala homes were part of a $34 million asset seizure last year. Photo /  Michael Craig
The Masala homes were part of a $34 million asset seizure last year. Photo / Michael Craig

Ten residential properties linked to the Masala restaurant empire, restrained under the country's biggest ever asset seizure and collectively worth $14 million, have been pulled from mortgagee sale.

The portfolio includes two sprawling homes in the exclusive Auckland suburb of Remuera, billed as one of the largest bundles of mortgagee properties ever offered to the market.

Advertised across two real estate firms, the properties were due to go under the hammer in eight days' time but were withdrawn last week.

ASB bank confirmed it holds mortgages on all 10 properties but declined to comment further.

The homes and land are collectively owned by four companies whose directors are linked to Masala.

One of the Auckland properties linked with the Masala Restaurant asset freeze. Photo / Greg Bowker
One of the Auckland properties linked with the Masala Restaurant asset freeze. Photo / Greg Bowker

The chain and people connected with it are under investigation for alleged criminal offending, accused of millions of dollars in tax evasion, breaching immigration laws and violating employment standards.

The 10 properties were among 33 homes and commercial buildings, as well as safe deposit boxes, caught by freezing orders as part of a $34 million asset seizure announced in December - New Zealand's biggest ever.

They span the Super City from Whangaparaoa in the north to Huapai in the northwest, Howick in the east and Waiuku in the south.

Their collective rateable value is $14 million. But with Auckland properties currently selling on average for about a third over CV, the haul was expected to fetch closer to $20 million when the hammer fell.

In April a High Court judge made orders allowing the properties to be sold if their mortgages fell into more than two months of arrears.

The most valuable of the 10 homes is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1920s house in Remuera. It has a CV of $2.95 million. Also in Remuera, the next priciest - a "majestic" four-bedroom, three-bathroom property - has a CV of $2.75 million.

Masala chain co-controller Joti Jain lived in the upmarket property. She was sentenced to 11 months' home detention last October after admitting immigration and exploitation charges in connection with the under-payment of staff.

A judge said in December that Jain was one of the key persons of interest in Inland Revenue's investigation.

Corrections refused to confirm whether Jain was serving her sentence in the luxury digs.

A "six or more bedroom" mansion at in East Tamaki was listed on Companies Office documents as the address of Supinder Singh, a director of companies which hold more than 20 of the frozen properties. Mr Singh has not been charged but is recorded as being under investigation by the IRD. Its CV is $1.6 million.

Meanwhile, a five-bedroom $1.75 million property in Dannemora, listed last year as the address of Masala founder Rupinder Chahil, was also listed for foreclosure last month.

Chahil was last year fighting six charges alleging he made false documents and supplied misleading information contrary to immigration laws. He was also under IRD investigation.

Neither Jain, Chahil nor Mr Singh could be reached for comment.

1. 124 Stanmore Bay Rd, Whangaparaoa
CV: $590,000
3 bedroom, 1 bathroom split-level home on 954sq m section. Walking distance to Stanmore Bay beach.

2. 2/766 Beach Rd, Browns Bay
CV: $510,000
2 bedroom, 1 bathroom "brick and tile beauty". One-level 1970s townhouse within walking distance from Browns Bay beach and shopping village.

3. 9 Tapu Rd, Huapai
CV: $680,000
4 bedroom, 2 bathroom brick and weatherboard family home on flat section.

4. 24 Ridings Rd, Remuera
CV: $2.95 million
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom 1920s character weatherboard house on 918sq m section. Described as a "masterpiece in waiting", this freehold 305sq m home sits on one of the country's most exclusive streets and within the sought-after double grammar zone.

5. 58 Bell Rd, Remuera
CV: $2.75 million
4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3 lounge 1990s split-level mansion. Also situated in the exclusive double grammar zone, the "majestic" 324sq m house sits on a 680sq m elevated section. Features triple car garaging.

6. 45 Westerham Dr, Dannemora
CV: $1.75 million
5 bedroom, 3 bathroom 2003 house on large 1200sq m site. The sprawling home has a floor area of 555sq m.

7. 27 Kinmont Rise, East Tamaki
CV: $1.6 million
"6 or more bedroom", 5 bathroom property on 751sq m section. Located in a quiet cul de sac on an elevated site and just a short drive from Botany town centre, the home is described as a must for all extended or large families.

8. 39 Kinmont Rise, East Tamaki
CV: $1.15 million
5000sq m vacant section with "magnificent panorama views" over South Auckland, Manukau Heads, Auckland City and Rangitoto Island. Zoned Rural 3 and Country Living under Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, offering opportunity for "dreamtime" lifestyle property.

9. 19 Hill Top Rd, Pukekohe
CV: $850,000
4 bedroom, 1 bathroom 1980s house on 2.72ha of productive land currently leased as market gardens. Property features its own water bore and loading races.

10. 144 Waiuku Rd, Waiuku
CV: $1.11 million
4 bedroom bungalow on 5.6ha of land on the fringe of Pukekohe township. Includes second bungalow "nestled in mature setting".

- NZ Herald

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