Rees developer goes bust

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Lindsay Singleton fronted one of Queenstown’s swankiest hotel/apartment developments - now he’s on the bones of his backside.

The Rees developer - linked to previous company failures where creditors were owed an estimated $110 million - filed for bankruptcy in February.

This week Singleton left lingering questions over shareholdings and directorships.

Companies Office records show Lifeguard Ltd, wholly owned and directed by Singleton’s son Paul, has shareholdings in seven companies formerly linked to Singleton senior.

Just three days after Singleton declared himself bankrupt, son Paul replaced him as director of four of these companies.

Lindsay Singleton wouldn’t comment on Paul’s firm Lifeguard this week, saying it’s a “trustee” company.

“Lifeguard holds the shares. The shares have always been held in trust.”

Mountain Scene: On whose behalf does Lifeguard as trustee hold the shares?

Singleton: “You’d have to talk to Lifeguard about that.”

He then said: “They won’t tell you - it’s got nothing to do with you.

“They do not hold the shares for me, alright? I’ve no shares in anything.”

Singleton refused to disclose Paul’s contact details, telling Mountain Scene: “Go and do your own work. All you’ve done is cause me misery for bloody years, why should I help you?”

Paul Singleton didn’t respond to a message requesting comment.

Lindsay Singleton won’t say how deeply indebted he was when applying for bankruptcy.

By one measure, Singleton is a $100m man - in a negative sense.

Companies linked to him have earlier crashed owing an estimated $110m.

Two corporate corpses - SMG Properties owing $53.1m and Beech Cove Apartments $55.7m - were associated with The Rees.

Liquidating these two companies in 2011, the government’s Insolvency & Trustee Service named BNZ and Dominion Finance as major creditors.

Yet 59 small creditors - who’d pawed the ground for months over non-payment - were left whistling for $1.5m.

Creditor protests led Prime Minister John Key to cancel his official opening of The Rees in 2009.

A decade earlier, Singleton also had suppliers baying for bucks after forming a 50-50 company with local Mike Stewart to run Queenstown’s Winter Festival.

Singleton stepped back - as Mountain Scene put it - just before the festival opened and resigned his directorship before Stewart folded the company.

After liquidators warned they’d seek legal advice, Singleton and Stewart put in extra money but creditors still wrote off $57,000.

Although Singleton has close commercial links with one of his brothers, his business tie-up with another brother, Lester Singleton, cost the latter’s family trust a pretty penny.

In 2012, Lester’s trust sued Lindsay and his company BWIP for substantial debts allegedly advanced partly in relation to The Rees and partly to a fine wine venture.

Lindsay staved off two preliminary court hearings, with the case adjourned for a full trial.

However, Lindsay folded BWIP in April 2013, citing “continuing legal action against the company”, the liquidator
reported.

There were no assets to pay Lester’s trust - the only unsecured creditor - its claimed debt of $1.4m.

frank@scene.co.nz