Take me back bankrupt Nielsen job hunting

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Exiled bankrupt Rod Nielsen wants permission to return to business in New Zealand – astounding Queenstowners he’s done business with and in spite of a judge’s warning. 

Information released by the Insolvency & Trustee Service reveals Nielsen wants to leave Las Vegas and become a real estate consultant in this country. 

Mountain Scene can also reveal Nielsen was spotted in Queenstown last Saturday. 

Going broke in September 2009 for almost $17 million, Nielsen was one of the resort’s biggest developers during the property boom. 

When bankrupted, he was living in the United States. After returning for a month early last year to see family, Nielsen was granted official permission by ITS to return to Las Vegas where he was also developing property. 

But now his luck’s run out in Las Vegas, according to a memo by Auckland insolvency officer Karen de Swardt, documenting a phone call from Nielsen late last year. 

De Swardt: “He advised [that] his company in the US has failed and the bank is foreclosing on the property as they are unable to make the mortgage payments.” 

Nielsen had earlier emailed De Swardt saying “a number of people” had approached him to work on “real estate projects in NZ on a consultancy basis”. 

De Swardt notes: “He is trying to get further information on his options for employment if he returns, as he needs employment to provide for his family.” 

She warned Nielsen that granting permission for him to work in real estate here would require “serious consideration” by Auckland Official Assignee David Harte – “as [Nielsen] has had many failed companies in the field he intends to return to”. 

Told to provide written employment offers, Nielsen emailed De Swardt a month later to say he was trying to “pin down” other parties on his intended real estate role. 

“As soon as I hear more I will let you know,” Nielsen promised. 

De Swardt isn’t cleared for media comment and her boss, Official Assignee Harte, couldn’t be contacted by deadline. 

It’s therefore unknown whether Nielsen obtained an official stamp of approval for real estate work. 

What is known is that the big bankrupt popped up in public at a Queenstown watering hole just last weekend. 

A reliable Queenstown business couple who know Nielsen by sight – but who won’t be named – spotted him at Monty’s in Church Street about 6.30pm last Saturday. 

Certain it was Nielsen, they say he was with wife Sirene and their toddler and drove off in a black Range Rover. 

If Nielsen has been granted official permission to return to NZ business, the approval would ignore strong warnings issued by Justice Paul Heath, when bankrupting Nielsen over development loans on Queenstown’s Heritage Villas. 

“[Nielsen] ought to have taken steps to ensure the company did not over-commit itself financially – plainly it did,” the judge said. 

“Property developers cannot do business on the basis the market will always be buoyant. 

“Mr Nielsen must take responsibility for being at best imprudent or at worst commercially irresponsible.” 

The judge warned the Insolvency & Trustee Service: “Restrictions on his business activities, triggered by bankruptcy, are desirable.” 

Nielsen’s corporate wings should perhaps remain clipped after his three-year bankruptcy ends in September 2012, Justice Heath also suggested. 

“There is a public interest in investigating his financial affairs to determine whether post-bankruptcy restrictions are appropriate,” Justice Heath said.