Christchurch property developer David Henderson has been discharged from bankruptcy by the High Court, but faces a further six-year ban on managing a business.
Henderson was bankrupted in 2010 owing at least $100 million, and while the normal term of bankruptcy is for only three years, the Official Assignee opposed his automatic discharge.
In a ruling published today, Associate Judge Rob Osborne closed that long-running challenge and ruled Henderson should be discharged on January 27, 2017.
Associate Judge Osborne ruled, however, that Henderson should be subject to restrictions on his ability to accrue debt and manage businesses.
For the next six years Henderson is prohibited from personally guaranteeing the debts of any other person or entity, or from controlling or managing a business or being employed by a business controlled by his relatives.
The ruling said Henderson's 2010 bankruptcy, his second, had been caused by personal guarantees given to cover company and associate's debts, and his inability to pay tax.
The ruling noted Henderson had borrowed extensively from finance companies in the run-up to the global financial crisis claiming personal equity of more than $30m.
The courts found Henderson did not beneficially own the assets underpinning these valuations.
"Mr Henderson accepts that he personally had none of the assets as represented when his 2006 - 2007 statements of position were completed," the ruling said.
Associate Judge Osborne noted Henderson had filed tax returns between 2001 and 2007 declaring he had received no income in any year.
The Associate Judge gave Henderson credit for "significant entrepreneurial skills," noting positive references from former Christchurch Mayors Sir Bob Parker and Garry Moore.
The latter said Henderson was a man with "1,000 ideas flowing around in his head at any one time [who] took on too much".
Commenting on the decision this afternoon, Henderson said:
"The judgment is quite mad. It is largely criticising me for giving personal guarantees in situations where I could not write a cheque if they were called upon. That is commercial naivety. That is exactly how the property development industry operates."
"The Government has spent millions of dollars trying to beat me through this process. Given that, there was always going to be a political outcome not a judicial one. This is exactly what this judgment is," he said.