Banned: Property developer barred from running companies for four years over bad contract and unpaid taxes

Property developer Greg Olliver has been banned from being a company director for four years over “mismanagement” in a decision intended to protect the public from the “risk” he posed.

The Companies Office banning order stems from Olliver’s plans for property in St Heliers that, in part, has been at the centre of an epic divorce battle with former wife Sarah Sparks.

Olliver will have to resign from dozens of companies in which he was a director. It is his most severe business setback since his $92 million bankruptcy in 2009. He did not respond to a request to comment.

A few months ago, a company he owned bought the Gulf Harbour Country Club at Whangaparāoa over which opposition to development is mounting.

Vanessa Cook, manager integrity and enforcement at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said one of the main purposes of banning directors was to “protect the public from persons who are not suited to hold the office of director”.

“The deputy registrar considered it was appropriate to exercise his discretionary power of prohibition in relation to Mr Olliver as he considered Mr Olliver presented a risk to the public,” she said.

The order means Olliver is barred from being a director and also prohibited from taking part in the management of any company, directly or indirectly.

Olliver and Sparks have been at the centre of a high-profile divorce case for almost a decade. The case has involved multiple court hearings and arguments over what assets Olliver had and which were marital property.

A stretch of land in St Heliers was at the centre of the argument – a multi-property collection of sections on Waimarie St that included the Olliver-Sparks family home.

Olliver had long sought to develop the properties, having bought them in 2001. They were sold in 2009 when he went bankrupt under creditors’ claims of $92m. Then he bought the land through CIT Holdings Ltd in 2012 when he came out of bankruptcy.

In 2014, Olliver, through another of his companies, BBG Holdings Ltd, made what the Companies Office called a “conditional agreement” to buy some of the land owned by CIT Holdings.

He also, through BBG Holdings, organised major earthworks to be carried out on the properties, including land owned by the other company. The $836,000 cost of the earthworks were at the heart of the Companies Office banning order.

The deal with BBG Holdings never went ahead and, in 2016, CIT Holdings was put into liquidation after failing to pay the mortgage on the Waimarie St properties. It left JG Civil’s bill for earthworks unpaid through BBG Holdings, which had requested the work, or by CIT Holdings, which Olliver had re-invoiced for the cost.

The $836,000 bill for the earthworks was a central feature of a recent High Court case over whether BBG Holdings, also now in liquidation, or CIT Holdings should bear the cost. Associate Judge Rachel Sussock described Olliver’s evidence in some areas as not “consistent”, “compelling” or “convincing”.

The Companies Office considered banning Olliver over the failure of BBG Holdings Ltd. The decision to bring in the ban was based on Olliver committing the company to spend money for earthworks on land it didn’t own, having a contract with JG Civil “on vague and uncertain terms” and the company’s failure to pay taxes.

Many of Olliver’s companies have seen the directorships transferred to Wayne Bailey, a Christchurch accountant. Bailey also stepped into Olliver’s directorship roles when the property developer went bankrupt in 2009. He did not respond to a request for comment.

One of those companies is The Pheonix [sic] Trust Ltd through which Olliver took ownership of the Gulf Harbour Country Club at Whangaparāoa. Olliver resigned as a director on October 21 with Bailey appointed on the same date, just as the banning order became final.

Auckland councillor Wayne Walker, who has expressed concern about potential development on the golf club, said the future of the project was unclear but would face strong opposition.

“There are many people in the community who are very concerned.”

Scrutiny of Olliver’s company structures through the courts once saw a judge describe hisaffairs as “conducted through a convoluted legal structure of trusts and companies apparently designed to protect assets from creditors and minimise taxation liability”.

A Herald investigation last year discovered accounts showing Olliver emerged from his 4c-in-the-dollar bankruptcy deal in 2012 to $15m in trust. In an interview as part of that investigation, Sparks said the complicated structures meant she still had no idea how much he was worth – or what her share was – years after he left her.

The Herald investigation found nine entities controlled by Olliver that had gone into receivership or liquidation since 2009 with debts of $42.5m, according to Companies Office records. Inland Revenue was listed as a creditor in a number of liquidation reports.

The address to which Olliver is registered for the banning order was a eastern suburbs house owned through companies linked to fellow property developer Andrew Krukzeiner.

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