Unhappy creditors left out in cold

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Western Pacific creditors won’t be able to quiz directors and liquidators of the crashed Queenstown insurer. 

No creditors’ meeting is planned, liquidator Simon Thorn tells Mountain Scene. 

“A creditors’ meeting is not going to provide any further information and [will] add significant cost and the benefit will be negligible,” he says. 

Thorn says three Western creditors initially requested a meeting but then rescinded their requests. 

Mountain Scene is one of those but manager Richard Thomas says he hasn’t pulled his request. Thorn promises to investigate. 

The Motel Association of New Zealand – owed $10-$15,000 – is unhappy there’ll be no Western creditors meeting. 

“I’d have thought some major creditors would have been interested [in a meeting],” MANZ boss Michael Baines says from Wellington. 

“I’d love to see [Western’s affairs] all out in the open.” 

Baines says MANZ re­commended Western to its members in return for “a little bit of money” for each policy sold. 

Mountain Scene’s professional advice about creditors’ meetings shows the position is grey. 

Creditors can call for meetings for various reasons – including replacing the liquidators – but, as Thorn says, liquidators can also disallow meetings on certain grounds. 

Baines says he’ll take advice about asking for a creditors’ meeting. 

Creditors can email meeting requests to Thorn at westernpac@nz.gt.com. 

Thorn and a Grant Thornton Christ-church colleague were appointed on April 4 by Western directors and co-owners Graham Smolenski and brother-in-law Jeff McNally. 

Pint-sized Western wrote policies with a total risk of $10.2 billion, the liquidators say. 

Thorn also warns of a huge shortfall from Western’s wash-up – policyholders with claims will lose $6m and 180 unsecured creditors $4m. 

Smolenski co-founded and ran Millbrook Resort until 2000 – he’s now a major shareholder in skifield operator NZSki. 

McNally was banned in 2002 by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission from selling policies for an unregistered insurance firm. ASIC “acted to protect consumers”, it said.