Despite racking up $30 million in legal bills, Owen Glenn is continuing his pursuit of Eric Watson by going after his former partner's right-hand man, William Gibson.
When BusinessDesk visited Glenn at his Auckland apartment earlier this month, the 79-year-old said he had spent more than $30 million on lawyers but would not stop pursuing Watson, having won a judgment in the UK courts against the high-profile ex-pat businessman in 2018.
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Glenn expressed frustration at the British legal system, saying it "seems to rely on points scoring against your opponent."
"Right now I have no idea what to expect and when to expect it."
Glenn isn't alone in pursuing Watson, who tried and failed to face down New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department. The tax dispute has seen liquidators appointed to a string of Watson-linked entities to unravel what the liquidators have described as complex, cross-border interests.
"My lawyers are talking to the tax department and trying to sort out an arrangement on the division of spoils, if there is one - and who has first rights. There's a lot of vague stuff in the courts and it seems to rest on negotiations between parties and doing the best deal you can."
The multimillionaires set up a joint venture in 2012, splitting the ownership of Watson's property, bloodstock and rugby league assets. The relationship soured and both men filed court proceedings in multiple jurisdictions to untangle their affairs.
That's extended to Watson's long-serving lieutenant, William Gibson, who's a senior executive at Cullen Investments. Gibson is fighting asset freezing orders brought by Glenn's entity Kea Investments.
BusinessDesk contacted Cullen Investment's lawyers seeking comment from either Watson or Gibson, but Watson said in an email it was inappropriate to comment at this stage.
In 2018, Kea obtained a judgment against Watson after English judge Christopher Nugee found Watson had deceived Glenn in relation to their business dealings. Kea had brought the case against Watson personally as well as their joint venture Spartan Capital.
While the case against Spartan settled mid-way, the judge ruled that Glenn should get the remainder of what he claimed from Watson, about 43.5 million British pounds.
London-based Watson tried to contest the amount of interest he had to pay Glenn but an appeal court said in July that 6.5 per cent was the correct rate.
Glenn's London lawyers said Kea's efforts to get the money have resulted in "certain recoveries", but in an email, Farrer & Co partner Toby Graham added there was still money owing and Kea was going to "pursue all available avenues for recovery."
The lawyer confirmed the parties will come before Justice Nugee again next week after Kea obtained without notice freezing orders against Gibson before Christmas last year.
Glenn's legal team wants those orders to continue, while Gibson and a related entity - Ivory Castle - are also seeking changes to freezing orders made against them earlier in 2019 so that they can pay their legal and living expenses.
A 2017 SEC filing records Ivory Castle as being owned by Heron Bay Trust, which in turn was owned by Gibson and his father.
While Glenn has the judgment against Watson, Justice Matthew Palmer noted that the businessman is at the centre of a "web of entities".
Justice Palmer made the observation when presiding over the Inland Revenue's case against Cullen Investments. He ruled the company had avoided tax, so Cullen Investments had to pay $112 million, an amount which includes interest.
While Cullen Investments indicated it would appeal the judgment, it did not pay about $500,000 in court costs in time, a move which led to its liquidation late last year.
Since then 21 New Zealand companies associated with Watson, 13 of which are directed by Gibson, have been moved into liquidation and are under the control of KPMG's Vivian Fatupaito.
In her first report, the liquidator noted Cullen Group "is part of a complex structure of entities that spans New Zealand and offshore jurisdictions, including the British Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America."