Former rich-lister Jamie Peters has told the High Court he "barely survived" from November 2009 to March 2011 using $80,000 from a friend's bank account and that he knew of other bankrupts who had bigger budgets than he did.
Peters' financial affairs are being probed in the High Court at Auckland this week, where the Official Assignee (OA) is arguing he should stay bankrupt for another three years.
The former property developer, in turn, is applying to be discharged as a bankrupt, which he was declared in October 2009.
Yesterday it was revealed in court that Peters, between late 2009 and 2011, had access to an eftpos card tied to an account of one of his family friends, Brenda Dixon.
Through the account, he spent $18,000 on an diamond engagement ring for his partner, who he is now married to.
Peters also used the account for "day-to-day" expenditure such as shopping at Nosh Gourmet Supermarket and a liquor store in Matakana, near his current address in Omaha Flats Rd.
This morning, OA lawyer Gareth Neil said the value of eftpos transactions on the account over the period from November 2009 to March 2011 was more than $80,000.
This amount did not include other funds that had gone to Peters' wife or entities such as trusts that were associated with the bankrupt, Neil said.
Over the period when the $80,000 was spent, Peters said "all he was doing was surviving".
"I managed to survive two very difficult years," he said.
Neil said that someone would need to earn between $60,000 to $70,000 a year from an employer to generate that sort of net income.
"It's pretty hard to survive on that kind of money, " Peters said during the exchange.
Neil said such a salary would be considered a good one for many New Zealanders.
"It's an average salary it's not a huge salary, it's not extravagance...," said Peters, although he accepted buying the engagement ring was an extravagant purchase.
"Quite frankly we barely survived on that [amount]," Peters said.
"Because you're continuing to live beyond your means," Neil said.
Peters said that prior to his bankruptcy he had a "far greater income".
"My living standard has changed substantially to the point where at least 12 months of my bankruptcy we lived in a garage, so I disagree with you," Peters said.
Peters also said he knew other bankrupts managed by the OA that had budgets "much larger" than he did.
During the period, Neil said Peters had holidayed in Queenstown and had gone on a "round the world trip".
The examination continues this afternoon and is expected to run for at least another two days.
The former developer, who is now in his 40s and is a relative of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, appeared on the National Business Review's Rich List in 2005 as being worth $40 million and in 2006 with $45 million.
Peters was involved with a number of high-profile developments before his bankruptcy, including the $300 million East on Quay office development in Auckland.