The sales of justice


The last major failed finance firm court case has been delayed six months while a defendant waits for cash from the sale of houses he’s helped develop in Queenstown.

Paul Bublitz, facing 49 charges relating to the $17 million collapse of Viaduct Capital and Mutual Finance, needs money to hire defence lawyers.

The charges, brought by the Financial Markets Authority, including theft by a person in a special relationship and making false statements in a prospectus.

He plans for the litigation cash to come from the sale of properties in Queenstown next February, according to The National Business Review.

The money will be in the form of a $500,000 loan from a company indirectly involved in the property development, and also from payment for his work.

Bublitz last month applied to delay the trial, which features four other defendants and was due to start in February.

He told Justice Geoffrey Venning, in Auckland’s High Court, that he’d been unable to privately fund lawyers since January.

An application for legal aid was rejected in February.

On Monday, Venning agreed to delay the trial which is set down for 12 weeks, putting it back to August.

“There is a reasonable prospect Mr Bublitz will receive funding from those sources,” Venning said. “Whether it is sufficient to fund his defence entirely or whether it will only assist him on a limited basis it is impossible to say at this stage.”

Bublitz manages the GEP Trust’s development of 10 houses on sections in an unnamed high-end development, of which six are due to be completed in February.

And he’s also independently working for another developer in Queenstown, which has six of 25 houses due to be completed in February.

The court heard he himself does not own property and lives in rental accommodation.

Viaduct owed 110 investors $7.8m in total when it collapsed in 2010. Mutual Finance went two months later, owing 340 investors some $9.3m.

All but $600,000 of the money was covered by the government’s retail deposit guarantee scheme.

More than 50 finance companies have collapsed in New Zealand in the past decade.