Celebrity saleswoman Suzanne Paul has been declared bankrupt, but she is back on television plugging a new product with her mother.
The English-born entrepreneur, whose Auckland-based Maori cabaret venture Rawaka went into voluntary liquidation last year owing more than $1 million, was adjudicated bankrupt at the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday.
Yesterday, she was on Television One's Good Morning show with her mother Eileen in an advertorial offering a drug-free pain-reliever for $149.95.
An electrical nerve stimulator called "Pain Gone" was "flying out the door faster than I can get them in", she chirped in her trademark Wolverhampton accent as she applied the small wand-like instrument to her mum's upper back.
Rawaka's liquidator, Mike Lamacraft, learned of her bankruptcy only yesterday morning from a public notice in the Herald but indicated he had already run out of hope that operating company creditors would see any of their money back.
This is despite assurances from Ms Paul, who is also known as Suzanne Kilworth, that she would do what she could through product endorsements and the sale of her former Glendowie mansion for almost $4 million to help out her creditors in the failed venture.
Mr Lamacraft said he was satisfied her failure to do so was "not for lack of effort" but he had established that the proceeds of the house sale were returned to secured lenders.
He had been keeping open the liquidation to see what might turn up, but said her bankruptcy meant he would probably close the process "fairly soon".
His initial liquidator's report in July estimated the venture was $1,163,500 in the red, owing $482,000 to staff and $326,500 to tradespeople and other creditors.
Ms Paul and her shareholders, partner Duncan Wilson and ex-husband Walter Kilworth, were left out of pocket by $355,000.
The liquidator's report referred to incorrect information from a consultant employed by Rawaka Ltd to get funds for the cabaret, which Ms Paul set up in the old Fisherman's Wharf restaurant in Northcote.
This delayed opening until another investor could be found, meaning it missed the high-season tourism trade at the end of 2003.
Mr Lamacraft was unperturbed to learn that Ms Paul was back on television selling a product, saying she was entitled to earn a living.
Neither Ms Paul nor product spokesman Raj Ranchhod could be reached for comment, but Mr Ranchhod last year welcomed her endorsement of a bronzing face powder, saying it showed her determination to "give something a go" in the midst of adversity.
He would not reveal then how much she was paid.
The Ministry of Economic Development's northern region official assignee, David Harte, said he could not comment on individual cases but the assets and earnings of bankrupts were carefully evaluated to determine how much they could keep.
He said they were usually interviewed thoroughly within a week of being declared bankrupt.
Asked about Ms Paul's television appearance, he said it was generally the case that the more money earned by a bankrupt party the better, as it meant more for the creditors. But he said bankrupts needed his permission to be self-employed or employed by a relative, or to take part in management of a business.
Bankrupts were usually discharged from that status after three years, unless he or a creditor objected, and were unable to travel overseas without his permission.
Ms Paul stands to lose her sole directorship of another company, Suzanne Paul Productions.
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