Qtown mayor’s legal stoush

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Queenstown’s mayor is facing legal action over the collapse of building company Stonewood Homes.

A statement of claim has been lodged at the High Court in Christchurch against Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult and Stonewood founder Brent Mettrick.

The plaintiffs are liquidators Rhys Cain and Rees Logan.

Neither the liquidators nor the court would provide details of the claim to the Otago Daily Times.

The High Court hears civil claims that are complex or for over $350,000.

Mr Boult told the ODThe would “vigourously defend” any suggestions he did not fulfil his duties as a director.

The Christchurch-based company went into receivership on February 22 2016, owing unsecured creditors $15 million.

It was later placed into liquidation.

About 110 home buyers were affected by the collapse.

Mr Boult joined the Stonewood board in August 2014.

He stepped down from the company on February 1 2016, telling media he had done so because he had been part of an attempt to buy Stonewood before receivers were called in and he considered he had a conflict of interest.

Mr Cain confirmed legal proceedings had been lodged in respect to the Stonewood Homes liquidations.

“The matter is now before the Court and as such the liquidators have no further comment to make at this time.”

He said he could not comment on the details of the claim.

When contacted yesterday by the ODT, Mr Boult said in a statement he rejected the claim made by the liquidators.

He said he was a non-shareholding director of the company for 18 months.

Mr Boult said he became involved with the business to “help the owner address a number of issues facing the company following the Canterbury earthquakes”, and resigned when it became “apparent those issues could not be resolved”.

“I have provided in-depth information to the liquidator that clearly demonstrates I fulfilled my obligations and duties as a director.

“I am confident any investigation will support this.”

Mr Boult, who is being represented by Auckland-based Alan Galbraith QC, said he would make no further comment.

A court spokesman confirmed the matter was a civil case initiated by a statement of claim, filed on July 31. He could not provide details of the claim.

There was no date set for the case to be called in court.

The next step was for a statement of defence to be filed by the defendants, which was expected to take about six weeks, he said.

In August 2016, the then-mayoral candidate told the ODT his duties as a director were carried out with “care and diligence”.

“I always acted in the best interests of the company to implement a solution that was intended to be beneficial to the creditors and the major shareholder.

“Ultimately the sole shareholder who controlled the company decided the outcome.

“At that time I had no option but to resign.”

Mr Boult said he was involved in a group that looked at a potential buyout of Stonewood, but that did not eventuate.

Mr Mettrick founded the Stonewood Homes franchise in 1987, with 21 franchise locations across the country.

All branches were independently owned, but Stonewood Homes New Zealand (based in Christchurch) was the master franchisor.

He declined to comment when contacted yesterday .

The contracts of the 110 home buyers were taken up by, Inno, a company owned by the millionaire property magnate Chow brothers, who continue to use the Stonewood brand for unaffected franchises.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz