Former Hanover director Mark Hotchin is set to make another bid to thaw the Crown's freeze of his assets in the Court of Appeal today.
Hotchin's New Zealand-based assets and those owned by two trusts associated with him - including a seven-bedroom Paritai Drive mansion - were put on ice in December 2010 when the Securities Commission (now the Financial Markets Authority) launched an investigation into Hanover Finance, Hanover Capital and United Finance.
The asset preservation orders were put in place to ensure that if any investors wished to take civil action against Hotchin, there would be money available should they win.
Hotchin's lawyers and those representing the trusts went to the High Court at Auckland in February last year to try to lift or vary the freezing orders.
Hotchin's counsel argued the orders were neither "necessary or desirable to protect the interests of aggrieved persons, that there is no risk of dissipation of assets and that the prospects of any successful claim against him [Hotchin] in civil proceedings is remote".
In her decision on the application last May, Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann kept the freezing orders in place but revoked some of those against the trusts.
The former Hanover director then made another bid to thaw the asset freeze in September, saying the orders were preventing him from conducting business because of the stigma they attached to him.
He also sought permission to sell his assets so he could pay money owed to creditors. Once this had been completed, Hotchin argued there would be no need for the preservation orders because his assets - including most of the $12 million he invested in the Paritai Drive property - would be used up paying debt.
Hotchin submitted that in place of the asset freeze he should enter into undertakings with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the court.
While Justice Winkelmann gave Hotchin leave in December to sell assets to pay his tax bill and some other debt, she ruled the orders should remain and also apply to any future assets he earns or is gifted from "family-controlled entities".
Hotchin has now taken the case to the Court of Appeal, with a hearing due to take place in Wellington today.
The Herald understands Hotchin's camp will once again argue the asset freeze is a drastic remedy, more intrusive than it needs to be and is serving no purpose. The FMA indicated yesterday it would oppose the application.
In a separate case, two trusts associated with Hotchin caught up in the asset freeze - known as KA3 and KA4 - are due to appeal against a ruling from Justice Winkelmann last month that kept some orders against them in place. No date has been set for this hearing.
The FMA argued last year that these trusts held property as bare nominees, or that they were "shams", and the properties in reality were owned by the former Hanover director.
Lawyers representing the trusts applied to have these pleadings of sham struck out. Justice Winkelmann struck out the FMA's claim against KA3 but in the case against KA4 she said there were "sufficient particulars to support an arguable case of sham".