Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Williams seen as a senior at Five Star

Neill Williams. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Neill Williams. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Neill Williams, whose role at the now-failed Five Star group is in dispute, angrily told a business manager not to "question his authority", the Auckland District Court has been told.

Williams pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges concerning mis-statements made in the 2006 prospectus and investment statement of collapsed Five Star Consumer Finance. But the 79-year-old later argued he only did so because he was too ill to endure a trial.

The undischarged bankrupt made two unsuccessful attempts to vacate his plea, one in 2011 and another in March last year.

Williams was not a listed director of Five Star Consumer Finance or related company, Five Star Finance, but did some work for the firms. However, the Financial Markets Authority, which is bringing the case against Williams, alleges he was a prime mover at Five Star if not, at times, a controller of events.

After the unsuccessful plea attempts, Williams is now going through a disputed facts hearings, where much of the focus is on his role at the failed firms.

Former Five Star Consumer Finance business manager Simon Down appeared as a Crown witness yesterday and said he viewed Williams as a "senior person" within the firms. "He had a strong relationship with the directors. I was aware he was not a listed director but he certainly, from my perspective, was more senior to myself," Down said.

Down recalled a dispute between himself and Williams over the processing of loans totalling $125,000 where the witness refused to pay the money through because of pressures Five Star were under at the time. "He was quite angry and asked me not to question his authority."

The hearing has been adjourned and will resume tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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