A man with a long legal history of faking documents, not paying tax and theft and fraud, has been made bankrupt for a third time.

Geoffrey Martin Smith was made bankrupt again in February this year when he failed to pay back the receiver of companies he was once liquidator of $595,775.60, after wrongly dispersing of it.

The receiver, Andrew McKay from BDO, filed bankruptcy proceedings against the Te Kauwhata man at the High Court in Hamilton.

In an unusual move, the Official Assignee in Hamilton has put a public notice in the NZ Herald notifying the public of Smith's bankruptcy to warn the public. He was also made bankrupt in 1989 and 2008.

Advertisement

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson said the Official Assignee made the rare move to advertise Smith's bankruptcy in newspapers due to "concerns that there may be creditors who are unaware of his most recent bankruptcy".

"The purpose of the advertisement was to advise the public of Mr Smith's current bankruptcy and as well to encourage contact from creditors."

It was also uncommon for a person to be bankrupt three times, with the Official Assignee only aware of at least 291 people who had been since 1989.

Associate Judge Jeremy Doogue, in his February 28 judgment, said there was a public interest in making him bankrupt so that he could not again wrongly take the money while acting as a liquidator of a company.

In his judgment, he rejected Smith's numerous arguments against being made bankrupt, which included that he used a void cheque to pay the debt, the receiver owed him $65 million and that he could not be adjudicated by the court.

Associate Judge Doogue's judgment also stated there were also other grounds for opposition which he "was not able to understand".

"For all of these reasons I consider that the judgment debtor has no defence to
the application for adjudication," the judgment said.

Smith, in a response to the Herald's request for comments, emailed a judicial notice saying that his name was "registered, copy written and solely privately owned" and demanded payment for the breach. He claimed the Herald already owed him $50m.

Smith also rejected being bankrupt three times, saying it was "totally false".

The majority of the debt owed - $540,000 - was linked to when the Te Kauwhata man was appointed liquidator in 2013 of two mobile truck shops, H.B Garments Limited and HAD Garments Limited.

Smith was ordered to repay the receiver the money after a ruling by Justice Matthew Muir of the Auckland High Court last year found that while Mr Smith was liquidator $852,998 was dispersed from the companies' accounts, but $540,000 could not be accounted for.

In Muir's judgment dated 25 July 2016, he also said Smith had lied about a document which he claimed asked Westpac - the secured creditor - what rights it wanted to take over those assets. Smith assumed Westpac had forfeited it rights when it did not respond.

His case prompted calls from lawyers last year to regulate liquidators.

This is not Smith's first run-in with court. In 2008 he was jailed after being found guilty on 94 charges of tax evasion allegedly totalling more than $500,000.

In 2000, Smith was sentenced to nine months in prison after being found guilty of theft and fraud while operating the Waikato-based New Zealand Free Ambulance Service.

He and his wife Barbara were also found guilty of stealing $6593 paid to them in 1994 for first aid courses they ran for St John. Smith was also separately convicted of fraud when he attempted to register the ambulance service using a fake document.

Liquidators need to be regulated - law firm