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Creditor applies to put Auckland country club owner into liquidation

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26 April 2024, 3:28 AM

Creditor applies to put Auckland country club owner into liquidationGulf Harbour Country Club. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Plans to redevelop a north Auckland golf course and country club have hit yet another snag, with an investor seemingly looking to pull out their money as challenges mount.

An application was made by a creditor to the High Court to put the owner of the Gulf Harbour Country Club, Long River Investments, into liquidation.

It was made by Inovagen Limited, which lists itself as a property investor with the Companies Office.

The court was to hear the application on April 24, but that is understood to have been delayed to May 16 at the request of Long River.

Long River's director Wayne Bailey said he had "no comment" to make when approached by Stuff.

The club has been surrounded in controversy, facing fervent opposition from local residents who formed a society to challenge any possible redevelopment into housing.

Legal counsel for the Keep Whangapāraoa Green Spaces society, Chris Gedye, said it had been revealed in court that the club had $48 million in outstanding debt.

He said that Long River had also faced claims in the Disputes Tribunal from club members seeking their fees back.

Commissioner questions dubious land deals

Alarm bells first rang for residents when the club was purchased by developer Gregory Olliver.

Their fears were realised when members received a letter saying the club would close, and a subsequent application was made to Auckland Council to sell off the northern half of the course.

It said the land would "be sold to fund the golf course redevelopment over a more sustainable footprint".

In the application, Long River urged the council not to allow local residents to have their say.

Gulf Harbour Country Club on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula golf course.Gulf Harbour Country Club on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula golf course. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

That's because there would have to be further applications down the line to develop the land because of an encumbrance that prevented it from being used for anything other than a golf course for a thousand years.

However, Auckland Council's appointed commissioner recently ruled that the application would be notified and open to submissions from the public.

Long River claimed in the application that it had "contracts in place" to purchase land adjacent to the course that would give it a more consolidated footprint.

However, Stuff then revealed that deal had already fallen through, with the supposed vendor, Hopper Developments, having received its own resource consent to develop the land.

The commissioner cited this as a reason for notification in her decision, noting works on the site "called into question the ability to purchase and use this land as the applicant suggests".

Director suspended for misconduct, headed overseas

Developer Gregory Olliver bought the country club in 2021 but was shortly after banned from being a company director for four years by the Registrar of Companies over an unrelated $836,000 earthworks bill that went unpaid.

Its present director is Wayne Bailey, an accountant.

A recently released decision from the Disciplinary Tribunal of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants shows he has now been suspended from practising as an accountant for four years.

Bailey argued in the tribunal he ought not to be struck off entirely because he was intending to move overseas and would not be working.

Nonetheless the tribunal decision said he "compromised the very standards that the profession is built on; integrity and independence".

Bailey was alleged to have transferred funds from a client's trust to his own company's account without required approval, and described a valuation as "independent" when in fact he had an interest, among other "particulars".

"His actions in each of the particulars tells of a very poor standard of practice and well below that which is acceptable in the profession," it said.

"The tribunal considers he blurred the lines of objectivity and independence and acted in an increasingly stark situation of conflict with his clients as time progressed.

"Mr Bailey fell into amalgamating his business interests with those of his clients and, when matters deteriorated between them, they fell into conflict and he preferred his own interests over theirs."

Bailey plead guilty and was ordered to pay $63,299 in costs.