The registrar for companies has moved to dissolve wealth management company Denton Morrell after its director Matthew Butterfield died.
The private wealth company, which specialised in creating trusts and partnerships for clients, had been probed by the Department of Internal Affairs for a suspected breach of anti-money laundering laws.
Denton Morrell was outed by Radio NZ as a company suspected of involvement with a worldwide network of companies and assets connected to the families of Azerbaijan leaders.
An obituary in the NZ Herald said Butterfield, the company's sole director and ultimate shareholder, died on June 9, aged 42 years.
The registrar has started the court process to liquidate Denton Morrell and six companies linked to it - Spindrift Holdings, DM GP, DM Corporate Services, Denton Morrell Group, DM Wealth Solutions and Denton Morrell Holdings. The companies will come before the High Court at Auckland on Friday.
The lawyer for the companies' registrar, Nick Malarao, said applications to liquidate the companies and general partnerships were made because it is illegal to run a company without a director.
The department says it had not yet taken further action against Denton Morrell but was working with its legal representatives to "resolve the matter."
DIA had issued a formal warning under anti-money laundering legislation, stating that between November 2015 and May 2018 Denton Morrell failed to conduct customer due diligence, monitor accounts and establish, implement or maintain an Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) programme.
While it did not allege actual money laundering, the department can issue a formal warning when it thinks a firm has engaged in conduct which it could be civilly liable for.
A woman who answered the phone at Denton Morrell referred BusinessDesk's query onto the company's solicitors, who have not yet responded.
The AML/CFT regime is relatively new to New Zealand and there have so far been two successful actions by the government. Ping An Finance was ordered to pay $5.29 million, although that company is now in liquidation. In the second case, Qian DuoDuo was penalised $356,000.