A former liquidator charged with stealing nearly $300,000 from two companies while acting for them is back in court defending himself against the allegations.
Geoffrey Martin Smith is accused by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of theft by a person in a special relationship, perjury and obstructing an investigation.
The SFO alleges he stole about $270,000 from two companies, HAD Garments and H.B Garments, after being appointed liquidator in 2013.
The companies were known as truck shops and helped low income neighbourhoods by selling goods out of lorries on credit terms requiring small payments over many months.
The perjury charges were laid by the SFO over documents filed by Smith in civil proceedings concerning the same liquidation activities.
Smith's trial was due to have been completed by now, after charges were laid in 2018, but the global Covid-19 pandemic halted affairs in March.
Yesterday, the case returned to the Auckland District Court for a judge-alone trial.
Smith, who is representing himself and currently behind bars for unrelated drug offending, said he had now been transferred to Auckland Prison at Paremoremo but alleged Corrections officers had taken "a lot of my disclosure and documentation".
He has previously been held at the Spring Hill Corrections Facility, court documents show.
A list of questions he had for yesterday's witnesses, he claimed, were also removed from his cell.
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"I am not as organised as I would have been," he told Judge Russell Collins. "Other than that I'm here and ready to go."
Smith, wearing a grey prison tracksuit, also told the court there was a "misconception" that he is no longer a liquidator.
"We'll hear the evidence, Mr Smith, and we'll get to submissions later," Judge Collins interrupted.
As the trial teetered along, Smith, when questioning a witness, asked: "Do you know who the Governor-General of New Zealand is?"
A frustrated Judge Collins stepped in: "How could that possibly be relevant? We're not playing quiz night, Mr Smith."
Smith's trial is expected to last for several more days.
The 66-year-old has a lengthy legal history, which includes being made bankrupt by the High Court for a third time in 2017 after failing to pay the receiver of HAD Garments and H.B Garments, BDO's Andrew McKay, some $595,775.
The majority of the owed debt - $540,000 - was linked to when he was acting as the companies' liquidator, court documents obtained by the Herald show.
Smith was ordered to repay the receiver after a High Court ruling in 2016 found that while Smith was liquidator $852,998 was dispersed from the companies' accounts, but $540,000 could not be accounted for.
He was also made bankrupt in 1989 and 2008.
Smith is also no stranger to the criminal justice system and his past offences include tax fraud, document forgery, and theft.
He and his wife, Barbara Jennifer Smith, were found guilty and convicted on 94 charges for offending between 2001 and 2006 against the Tax Administration Act.
At the time, they operated a partnership trading as Trellis and Fence Warehouse in the small Waikato town of Te Kauwhata. The business sold trellis, fencing, posts and railing and from about 2001 also sold kindling, primarily to Solid Energy in Huntly.
An approach to the Inland Revenue Department by an employee triggered an investigation by IRD in 2004. The couple's unpaid taxes amounted to at least $570,000, the Crown said, according the court records.
Smith was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment and his wife given a nine-month home detention stint. His appeals were dismissed in 2008.
In 2000, He 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.
His wife was also part of the scam and they were ordered to repay $6593 of stolen money to the Order of St John. Smith was also convicted of two fraud charges over his attempt to register the ambulance service with a false document in 1996.
In 1988, he was found guilty of fraud for the false valuation of machinery costing $159,000. He served nine months' periodic detention and was ordered to pay reparations.
In a response to previous Herald requests for comment, Smith has said his name was "registered, copy written and solely privately owned" and demanded payment for its use. He has claimed the Herald already owed him some $50m.
The Smiths have continued to deny the allegations against them.