Liquidator talks to Govt

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Liquidators of failed Queenstown insurer Western Pacific are talking to the Government. 

Simon Thorn of Grant Thornton Christchurch won’t say “bail-out” but he tells Mountain Scene: “This matter is sensitive and with AMI and all the other stuff going on, the Government’s taking an interest in all these things.” 

The news will be encouraging for Queenstown builder Don Millar, who paid his premium just days before Western Pacific owners Graham Smolenski and Jeff McNally put the company into liquidation. 

AMI Insurance – like Western Pacific, swamped with Christchurch quake claims – has been thrown a lifeline with a $500 million Government guarantee. 

Thorn: “I’d really appreciate if you wouldn’t speculate on a few of those things because it’s very sensitive. 

“There’s a lot of people in Christchurch in particular who are right now wondering whether they’ve got somewhere to live – and secondly, whether they’ve got insurance. 

“So we’re talking to various parties – and to Government, of course – and hopefully we’ll have something to report soon.” 

Thorn says “goal number one” is to ensure reinsurance with offshore companies can be collected – “because without that, there’s not a lot of money for anybody”. 

The liquidator adds: “We’re talking to a number of parties who are looking at trying to buy [Western Pacific’s policies].” 

Have you had nibbles? “We’re still talking – so yeah.” 

Thorn wants all claims notified “so we know who we need to talk to”. 

Are claimants unsecured creditors? 

“I don’t know right now – this matter’s being looked at by our lawyers,” he says. 

“Please don’t speculate on that, that [issue] is very sensitive.”