A former Dragons' Den star, his business partner and their marina-related companies have failed in a bid to overturn their convictions for tax evasion.

Paul Webb, who rose to prominence in 2006 as a dragon on the entrepreneurial reality TV show Dragons' Den, along with former Ernst & Young partner David Tauber were convicted and later sentenced by Justice Mary Peters in the High Court at Auckland last October.

An accountant, known only as Mr X due to a permanent suppression order, and the companies Honk Barges Ltd (HBL) and Honk Marine Ltd (HML) were also convicted of tax fraud.

Webb, Tauber, HBL and HML then took their case to the Court of Appeal, challenging Justice Peters' decisions.


However, today the Court of Appeal sided with the High Court judge and dismissed all their appeals.

Webb, who reportedly made his millions during the 1990s through residential property developments and with the airline City Jet, was sentenced to nine months' home detention and 400 hours' community work.

He appealed this alongside his convictions, but the Court of Appeal Justices Mark Cooper, Jillian Mallon and Edwin Wylie said the sentence was not manifestly excessive.

"If anything, the sentence was, in our judgment, lenient. The appeal against sentence cannot succeed," the judges ruled.

The appeals against conviction by HBL, HML, Tauber and Webb were also dismissed.

"The transactions were pre-planned, undertaken in anticipation of the tax advantages which would flow, and with the intention that moneys lent would be repaid in short order," the appeal judges said in their decision.

"The backdating of documents, the use of legally non-existent entities, the belated giving of instructions to intermediaries, and the circular money trails, all point to preconceived dishonesty."

Paul Webb starred on the TV series Dragons' Den. Photo / File
Paul Webb starred on the TV series Dragons' Den. Photo / File

In late May last year, Webb, Tauber, Mr X, HBL and HML went to trial over a total of 36 tax evasion charges.


Justice Peters found Webb guilty of three of nine charges, Mr X guilty of six of nine charges, and Tauber guilty of all the charges he faced.

HML was also found guilty of four charges, and HBL of five.

HML provided false information to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) in its income tax returns for the financial years ending from 2007 to 2010, Justice Peters found.

The returns were false after HML claimed deductions for interest on "bogus loans" from a now deceased lender of $3.62m, $3m and $2.65m, made in July 2006, September 2007 and September 2008.

The IRD's investigation into the tax affairs of Webb and Tauber began in 2008.

David Tauber was a former tax partner at Ernst & Young. Photo / Michael Craig
David Tauber was a former tax partner at Ernst & Young. Photo / Michael Craig

Justice Peters sentenced Tauber to three years and three months' imprisonment.

Tauber was also before the High Court in 2012 as he attempted and failed to settle $95.9 million of debt for his event management business APG Holdings.

Mr X, meanwhile, was sentenced to 12 months' home detention and 400 hours' community work.

Justice Peters said she thought "long and hard" about whether to send him to prison.

"This is not a one-victim crime, this is about as many victims as you can get," Justice Peters said, adding the New Zealand taxpayer will be burdened with the bill for the IRD's lengthy and complex investigation.

HBL was fined $125,000 and HML fined $100,000.

All of the unpaid tax has been repaid to IRD.