Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Bank chasing lawyer's $30m debt

Barry Hart has withdrawn an application to have ANZ National Bank barred from selling 952ha of prime real estate in Waimauku but says he is still confident a deal can be reached. Photo / APN
Barry Hart has withdrawn an application to have ANZ National Bank barred from selling 952ha of prime real estate in Waimauku but says he is still confident a deal can be reached. Photo / APN

Auckland lawyer Barry Hart owes more than $30 million to his bank and is being charged $200,000 interest a month until the debt is cleared.

Mr Hart yesterday withdrew a High Court application to prevent the ANZ National Bank from auctioning 952ha of prime real estate at mortgagee sale.

The Bayleys website said the land in Waimauku can be bought as 10 individual lots or a single holding and "represents a rare opportunity to secure one of the largest privately owned land holdings north of Auckland".

Only 25km from downtown Auckland, most of the property is farmland, with three lifestyle blocks and almost 40ha next to Woodhill Forest with consent for sand extraction.

Outside the High Court at Auckland yesterday, Mr Hart said he was trying to reach a settlement with the bank and "fighting" to save the property.

"I'm confident we'll get it resolved ... I haven't lost it yet.

"I've taken proceedings and working towards a resolution. That's all I've got to say. I'm fighting, here I am."

A spokesman for ANZ National Bank said yesterday "if the bank is not reimbursed it will seek to recover the outstanding amount through the mortgagee sale process".

Mr Hart, 70, is well known in legal circles and has represented high profile criminals, such as samurai sword killer Antonie Dixon, at trial.

The potential property auction comes after one of Mr Hart's companies was put into liquidation by Inland Revenue for an unpaid tax bill of less than $100,000.

His 12-month battle to save the property is detailed in a court judgment released by Justice Murray Gilbert last month.

The High Court judge granted an interim injunction over the mortgagee sale of two properties in Muriwai and Waimauku, which are part-owned by Mr Hart's 75-year-old sister.

Audrey Propst acted as a guarantor for her brother's debt on the Muriwai property and paid $1.13 million in March to clear her debt to ANZ National, according to the judgment.

"Mr Hart has defaulted on his obligations to the bank and is currently indebted to the bank for in excess of $30 million. Interest is accruing on these debts at a rate exceeding $200,000 per month," said Justice Gilbert.

The loans from ANZ National Bank were secured by mortgages over the various properties which have a capital value of $26 million, so Justice Gilbert said a shortfall was expected once they are sold.

"The bank's patience is at an end. It wishes to proceed with a sale of all the properties. It is not prepared to allow further time for the mortgagors to arrange the sale themselves."

The interim injunction against the sale of the properties part-owned by Mrs Propst does not affect any sale of the other titles owned by Mr Hart.

Earlier this month, the Inland Revenue Department successfully applied to have B J Hart Ltd - of which Mr Hart is the sole director and shareholder - placed into liquidation over an unpaid tax bill.

The experienced barrister is also facing four misconduct charges brought by the Standards Committee of the Law Society, including an allegation that he "grossly" overcharged a client by billing him $35,000 plus GST in a criminal case.

Mr Hart unsuccessfully appealed for name suppression all the way to the Supreme Court. The hearing is due to start next month.

- Additional reporting: Edward Gay

BARRY HART
* Owes $30 million to bank.
* Charged $200,000 interest a month.
* More than 950ha of land advertised for mortgagee sale.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 21 Apr 2014 23:20:34 Processing Time: 517ms