Massey courts end to liquidation drama

By Lawrence Gullery


Former Nature Green New Zealand director Ron Massey is calling for an end to the "trial by media" around the ginkgo company's failure and has invited the liquidator to take him to court to sort this out.

Mr Massey, Napier City Council's economic development adviser, rejected opinions released to the media by liquidator David Petterson, over fees and expenses paid to himself and another former director, Jon Knight.

Mr Petterson told creditors Mr Knight was paid $529,000 in consultant's fees and $170,000 in travel expenses for work with the company, which was set up to sell ginkgo trees to growers and then export the leaf and extract overseas.

There was also a claim Mr Massey's wife was paid a $1000 Christmas gift, for each year between 2005 to 2008, to account for the time he had spent away from home on trade trips for the company.

"To the best of my knowledge the Christmas gift was approved by the shareholder," Mr Massey said. "As far as the fees and expenses go for Jon, what the liquidator doesn't say is that those figures are over 10 years.

"The liquidator says my fees were $10,000, that's incorrect as well, it's little over half that figure."

Nature Green was put into liquidation in July 2012 and creditors are deciding whether they can afford the $150,000 bill to sue Mr Knight and Mr Massey. Mr Petterson said he believed the creditors had a case to sue for reckless trading and trading while insolvent and were owed $1.7 million.

"What I would like to see is the liquidator put forward some hard facts and file for court action. Let's get this sorted out once and for all instead of leaking selective emails to the media," Mr Massey said.

"The attention this is drawing is damaging my credibility and it is an unfair trial by media. At the moment I have about 25 active clients and different stages of rebuilding and developing businesses and they know my reputation is solid."

Hawke's Bay Today understands the ordeal is also putting a strain on Mr Massey's health but he plans to stay on with the council and defend court action if it came. He admitted the ginkgo business "was not capitalised right" and it struggled but growers knew the risk involved.

He said he understood the effect on the creditors but believed ginkgo was still a viable business. At least one grower had harvested a crop and managed to sell it overseas.

Mr Petterson said there was no hurry for creditors to make a decision on whether court action was needed. "They've already spent a lot of money and this is a big decision for them to make. If I get a response which says don't go through with this [court action] then that's fine. There has to be someone prepared to stand up and put these issues on the table."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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