By ELIZABETH BINNING
Ewan Wilson, the man who founded the ill-fated Kiwi Airlines, could be forced to resign from his position on a prominent Hamilton trust following revelations that he was not legally entitled to stand for election.
Following the collapse of Kiwi Airlines in 1996 Mr Wilson was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three months' periodic detention.
A separate Companies Office investigation resulted in his being banned from managing or directing any company for five years.
That order has now expired, but it was still in place when Mr Wilson, also a Hamilton City councillor and Waikato District Health Board member, won a seat in the WEL Energy Trust elections last June.
WEL Energy Trust chairman Garry Mallet said Mr Wilson had signed a form before the election saying that to the best of his knowledge he met the eligibility criteria, which included not having any prohibition orders.
Mr Mallett said it was only last week during an informal meeting that the trustees became aware of the fact that Mr Wilson should never have been able to run in the election.
The trustees, who are responsible for distributing millions of dollars to community groups each year on behalf of power lines company WEL Networks, were reviewing their election processes when they came across the section about prohibition orders in the eligibility criteria.
"Ewan, to his credit, said, 'Oh, I think I might be caught by that', but he wasn't sure so he went home that night and got his documentation."
Mr Mallett said that after Mr Wilson reviewed the documents, he realised he had breached the election rules and wrote to the trustees the next day telling them.
Mr Wilson told the Herald he thought he had met the criteria when he signed the forms last year, but had not read them thoroughly enough.
He also relied on earlier legal advice, which cleared him to run in the city council and health board elections.
"My mistake was in thinking that the trust would have the same criteria."
Mr Wilson said none of the trustees had picked up on the mistake either. He said he would resign if necessary.
Mr Mallett said the trust was seeking legal advice on how to deal with the unusual situation.
Mr Wilson receives about $30,000 a year for being a trustee but Mr Mallett said it was too early to say whether the money would have to be repaid.
Mr Wilson, who has just launched his campaign for the Hamilton mayoralty, said he did not think this matter would affect his political support.
By ELIZABETH BINNING