Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Board seeks to extend asset freeze

Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

The Cornwall Park Trust board is applying once again to extend freezing orders over assets of a woman it is suing after she abandoned her house.

The board, which owns 110 Greenlane and One Tree Hill properties, is chasing Auckland woman Yong Xin Chen for more than $300,000 in allegedly unpaid leasehold fees, renovation costs and expenses.

Chen bought 21 Maungakiekie Ave in 2005 on leasehold board land paying only $8300 a year. But that shot to $73,750 after her 21-year lease came up for renewal and the ground rent reflected the new valuation. Chen left the property in November 2011 and returned the keys for the house to the trust board.

The trust board's attempt to get more than $300,000 from Chen is due to be heard in the High Court at Auckland in May and ahead of that trial, the trust board obtained a freezing orders over a property in Orakei owned by the defendant, which is in the process of being sold.

The freezing order, made by the High Court's Justice Patrick Keane in March, also extended over proceeds of the sale of the property and was due to expire a month after they were made.

In making the orders, the court was satisfied that there was a danger that a judgement in favour of the trust board "would be wholly or partly unsatisfied because the assets of [Chen] may be removed from New Zealand, or disposed of, or dealt with, or diminished in value".

As well as making the freezing order, Justice Keane made another order for Chen to disclose the extent and value of assets belonging to her.

Lawyers for both sides then appeared before Justice Kit Toogood on March 31, where the trust board applied to extend the order.

This was opposed by the defendant.

The trust board remained concerned that any judgement obtained by it in the May proceedings would be left partially or wholly unsatisfied.

In his decision, Justice Toogood said Chen had not complied fully with directions on the disclosure of her assets.

"I am not presently persuaded that the defendant's disclosures have mitigated the risk that assets will be dissipated," Justice Toogood said.

The judge then gave Chen the opportunity to file evidence to comply with Justice Keane's order and set a hearing for yesterday, which was heard by Justice Murray Gilbert.

John Hannan, lawyer for the trust board, told the judge yesterday that the defendant had provided two bank account numbers and details that one account was a joint account.
Hannan said that it was not originally disclosed that the account was jointly-held.
"That is a significant omission," he said.

Hannan told Justice Gilbert that the information wasn't sufficient to allay the trust board's concerns and sought to extend the freezing orders once again.

"The trust board remains of the view that a freezing order is required," Hannan said.
Chen lawyer, Jennifer Wickes, opposed the trust board's application.

She said the circumstances didn't show there was a real risk that assets would be disposed of and leave any judgement obtained by the trust board unsatisfied.

Some of the information being sought by the trust board from Chen was not information it was entitled to, she told the court.

Justice Gilbert reserved his decision on whether the freezing orders should be extended, but indicated he would issue his decision early this week.
As it stands, the orders are due to expire tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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