Sarah Sparks married Greg Olliver in 2000. Twelve years later it fell apart. This year, self-represented Sparks gets her day in court. David Fisher investigates.
A high-flying property developer went to the wall owing $92.6 million then struck a deal to avoid bankruptcy.
He then emerged from the deal with creditors with financial accounts showing $15m held in a trust.
An investigation by the Herald also found Greg Olliver arranged finance for an undeclared $6.7m loan in the midst of organising the creditors' compromise, saying the deal with those he owed money could collapse if the new loan was known about.
The Herald has found Olliver or his companies have amassed fresh debt of $9m in the 10 years since the creditors' compromise, with an additional $33.7m still owed from a business deal before his financial collapse.
The details of Olliver's finances emerged during court hearings linked to his split from former wife Sarah Sparks in 2012.
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The courts have described the split as "acrimonious" as legal action related to the divorce extended to dozens of court hearings in multiple jurisdictions.
Central to the cases is Sparks' efforts to find out how much money Olliver has and what share of it is due to her as matrimonial property.
The exact details are difficult because - as one court decision described it - Olliver's companies are organised in "a convoluted legal structure of trusts and companies apparently designed to protect assets from creditors and minimise taxation liability".
The Herald has examined court documentation to emerge from recent cases against Olliver's 2009 agreement with creditors over the $92.6m in debt.
The court documents include statements for The Bankhouse Trust, an entity of Olliver's which is a shareholder or security holder for companies associated with the property developer.
The statements from 2013 and 2014 claim $15m in equity after accounting for $116m in loans to companies or trusts associated with Olliver.
The financial position of The Bankhouse Trust is a contrast to the position Olliver in which found himself in 2009.
In February that year, Olliver was called to the High Court to answer insolvency proceedings over mounting debts.
The insolvency hearing was postponed at the last minute to allow a meeting of creditors owed $92.6m to take place.
The compromise deal was reached in March 2009 and confirmed by the High Court in May 2009, with Olliver agreeing to pay either half his annual earnings or $100,000 for each of the next three years.
In the High Court decision on the deal, associate Justice John Faire recorded Olliver as saying he had no assets which would allow creditors to recoup their money.
Olliver told the court his only assets were shares in three companies which had no value, acting as agents for underlying trusts. Of those, Olliver said he had links to five trusts that owed money on mortgages higher than the land against which the money was borrowed.
"The mortgages are in default. He personally is a guarantor of the mortgages. He expects that if the properties were sold by the mortgagees there would be a shortfall in each case and nothing left for the trusts.
"He says the only other assets of the trusts are a computer and phone system and two vehicles that are available for his personal use."
Beyond that, Olliver's only earnings were to be an annual consultancy fee of $525,000 over the next two years.
The third anniversary of the creditors' compromise was in 2012 with $15m in value showing in The Bankhouse Trust accounts a year later.
The Bankhouse Trust was the focus of questions in a 2017 court case related to one of the nine companies Olliver has had go into liquidation, CIT Holdings Ltd.
Evidence was produced showing money paid by The Bankhouse Trust Ltd to CIT Holdings Ltd from 2008 through to 2011.
Murray Tingey, lawyer for liquidators KPMG, questioned an executive who had worked for one of Olliver's compromise creditors in 2009 but was now receiver of CIT Holdings.
Tingey asked: "Do you have any idea how he could have made those advances when he was subject to the compromise?"
The executive did not.
Tingey continued: "But how could Bankhouse Trust have any money? Can you give any explanation of how suddenly there could be money be - well, allegedly - transferred from Bankhouse to the company?"
Again, the executive - appointed by Olliver as receiver - could not answer.
Further, documentation discovered by the Herald during its investigation reveals Olliver sought out and secured a $6.7m loan from the Bank of New Zealand during a key moment of the 2009 insolvency mediation.
A draft loan agreement obtained by the Herald, dated March 2 2009, shows the BNZ was lending money to "a "Greg Olliver entity - details to be confirmed". The loan agreement named Olliver as the guarantor.
The money was to be used to buy a group of St Heliers' properties, including the Olliver-Sparks family home, which were heavily mortgaged as part of the $92.6m pool of debt.
The final loan agreement on March 9 no longer referred to a "Greg Olliver entity".
Instead, the loan was to CIT Holdings, a company from which Olliver had resigned a week earlier and into which Sparks had been appointed director. The final loan agreement also removed Olliver as the guarantor of the loan.
An email obtained by the Herald shows the BNZ's Craig Dungey, the Dunedin banker who appears to have been Olliver's main contact with the bank, ask the property developer why he couldn't personally guarantee the loan.
Olliver told him another creditor on the list of those owed money "could potentially leave the scheme exposed from the vocal minority".
"A $6.75m swing on this thing would sink it if it was to be reviewed in anyway."
He assured the bank he wouldn't "walk away from this debt guarantee or no guarantee".
In doing so, he referred to his mentor - and newly appointed BNZ chairman - John Waller as saying of the creditors' compromise that "the most financially lucrative thing for me to do (but not necessarily the right thing) … was to walk away from everything rather than put the scheme together".
In the email, he referred to one of Dungey's managing executives Gerald Sare, also copied in, saying the banker wouldn't think "for one moment… I would walk away from this debt guarantee or no guarantee".
As it turned out, the mortgage had ballooned to $14m by the time of the 2017 court case, with no mortgage payments made.
KPMG liquidator Vivian Fatupaito questioned The Bankhouse Trust accounts in her work on CIT Holdings. Correspondence from Fatupaito to Olliver, on the Court of Appeal file, showed the liquidator asking he explain "discrepancies with Bankhouse Trust's accounting records".
She wrote that the draft financial statements had information recorded in an inconsistent way. In one case, loans were valued at around $900,000 in one part of the accounts when they were elsewhere recorded as worth $2.6m.
Other court records also show Fatupaito stated there were at least $94,000 in payments from the company which were "potentially not … legitimate business expenses". They included cash paid to another company of Olliver's and those identified as "personal" to his bank account or a trust account.
There was another $124,000 "of costs that should not have been paid by the company".
CIT Holdings is one of seven Olliver-linked companies to go into liquidation since his creditors' compromise deal in 2009. The companies are shown in Companies Office records carrying debts of $8.7m.
One other company - Leefield Vineyard - emerged from receivership last year having recouped about $14m while leaving $33m still owing to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The debt was part of the original $92.6m pool.
Olliver did not respond to questions sent by the Herald and declined requests to be interviewed.