Bankrupt property developer Dave ‘Hendo’ Henderson’s had his first significant win against the government since his famous victory against Inland Revenue.
Before his $2 billion Five Mile project at Frankton collapsed in an avalanche of debt, Hendo’s big claim to fame was over his four-year battle with the taxman, immortalised in the film We’re Here To Help.
Hendo’s been bankrupt since November 2010, mired in various court battles paid for by his supporters.
Now, police have admitted search warrants used in April 2011 to search his quake-damaged central Christchurch business premises were unlawful.
Computers and thousands of documents were seized in the raid – prompted by a complaint from Property Ventures’ liquidator Robert Walker over claims Hendo hadn’t provided business records, despite legal demands.
The case has been settled ahead of a High Court hearing which, according to a note from Justice David Gendall, is no longer necessary.
Hendo is now taking aim at the Official Assignee’s office to fight the extension to his bankruptcy.
“A lot of the material the Official Assignee’s office is wandering around with has been unlawfully obtained,” he tells Mountain Scene.
“That causes them a huge problem.
“They’ve held me in bankruptcy now for four-and-a-half years – I assert that they’ve done so improperly.
“Trust me, the same as I had to persevere with the police to get this resolved, I’ll persevere with the Official Assignee’s office.”
Hendo says the settlement and admission by police over the search warrants involves a “significant” but confidential sum.
“Sadly it’s just so typical of how the state operates.
“They’re happy to use extraordinary amounts of taxpayer money rather than just actually own up, acknowledge their own shortcomings and fix a problem.”
He says the settlement was made in the face of facts “unequivocally biased” towards the search warrant being unlawful – so the government was facing an adverse finding and possibly an order for damages.
“I just think Crown Law and the police had decided that I’d run out of puff before the May 25 hearing and the matter would get brushed away.”
As reported by Mountain Scene last week, a judge curbed Hendo’s bid to take legal action over the seizure of his computer – and what the former developer claims was the unlawful and improper distribution of personal material.
Hendo says his supporters will post security for costs.
The National Business Review reported earlier this month charges were dropped against former bankrupt Jamie Peters, a veteran developer in Auckland and Wellington, because of an “abuse of process” by the Business Ministry.
Comment is being sought from police, Walker and the Business Ministry.