“Bankruptcy is a joke” – Slater

Cameron Slater filed for bankruptcy in February in response to mounting legal debts in multiple defamation proceedings against him. He (via his lawyer Brian Henry) has also tried to use that bankruptcy to try to avoid complying with Court orders in one ongoing defamation case, but Palmer J didn’t agree:

On 20 March 2019, I ordered this proceeding to continue against Mr Slater despite his bankruptcy, under a wide discretion in s 76(2) of the Insolvency Act 2006 (the Act).

I now make it explicit under that discretion and/or under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to supervise proceedings before it. That means Mr Slater must comply with the court orders irrespective of Mr Henry’s argument about the effect of his bankruptcy. Further argument is not required.

I regard Mr Henry’s submission about the different legal personalities of a bankrupt and a bankrupt estate as a nice academic issue.

I would expect a bankrupt continues to be personally responsible for the discharge of duties in legal
proceedings which are purely personal in nature and unrelated to any property interest of the bankrupt.

The issue here is whether Mr Slater’s bankruptcy necessarily negates the need to comply with the Court’s orders to date. Irrespective of the default legal effect created by Mr Slater’s bankruptcy, I consider it need not and that it does not.

– see judgment CIV-2016-404-1312 [2019] NZHC 1666

In May 2014 Slater posted Bankruptcy is just a joke, really

Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims.

The number of times bankrupts hide assets and continue to operate companies by using a puppet on the paperwork is so frequent as to make the process of being in bankruptcy pretty much meaningless.

Use of trusts, partners or girlfriends to “own” things and plain hiding of assets from the Official Assignee are very common.

What isn’t common is for bankrupts to be prosecuted for this behaviour.

It is good to see this may be changing.

See (Stuff):  Whale Oil company previously owned by Cameron Slater goes into liquidation

And: Whale Oil company put into liquidation after rearrangements

In June 2014 Slater (Whale Oil) followed up with An insiders view of bankruptcy and insolvency in NZ

I read your blog from time to time and also tend to pick up pieces you run on insolvency type issues such as the one you ran recently titled “Bankruptcy is a Joke.”

I am in my 50s and have pretty well been part of the insolvency industry in NZ since the day I walked out of Uni all those years ago. I thought I would post a few pieces to you on insolvency to explain how it works and why we have so many issues in this area

By far the bulk of liquidations in NZ are voluntary appointments by shareholders. 75% of shareholders can vote to put a company into liquidation and appoint a named liquidator. If the liquidator consents to appointment then they are appointed.

There are two ways to get work as a liquidator, get clients who liquidate companies and get them seeking your consent to be liquidator or offer a service whereby shareholders can put their companies into liquidation (voluntary liquidation), or a mixture of both. Voluntary liquidations are by far the easier option.

But how do you sell yourself? – “Appoint me as liquidator and I will come after your company’s assets, the current account you owe and I will turn over those transactions where your mates got paid but others didn’t.” Not a great way to promote business.

On the other hand – “appoint me and I will just sit back and do bugger all. I will turn a blind eye to the transactions that have occurred and I will accept your weak ass explanations about how your current account had been paid back.” That is the dilemma facing a lot of liquidators who rely on voluntary appointments to make a living. Do I kick ass and lose business or do I go easy and get more business.

Some liquidators seem to do a good job some of the time but turn a blind eye at other times. Other liquidators are extremely active in providing a service to defeat creditors. They achieve this by simply doing nothing. They dismiss creditor enquiry and bury the company.

How can you deal with this? They are currently looking to regulate the industry and to have accountability back to an umbrella organisation. Will this work. I am sceptical, we already have chartered accountants doing liquidations who are under the supervision of NZICA with little in the way of holding errant liquidators to account. I actually don’t disagree with the powers liquidators have. They can get nearly any information they want, they can compel people to attend upon them and they don’t need to answer to anyone outside of reporting obligations.

The last thing a liquidator needs is people holding up a process of selling assets that wont cover everyone’s debt in full or even any of the debt. They need the freedom to do the job. But, and I think this is where the problem lies, the power granted to liquidators assumes that they are professionals with high integrity who will do the job properly, unfortunately I don’t think that is the case in all instances.

In the case of the liquidation of Social Media Consultants I expect the liquidator will do a professional job, although they may be constrained by the amount of funds available to pay for their services unless there are sufficient assets.

On Whale Oil on 6 June 2016: Rodney Hide on insolvency and the wild west of the industry

Rodney Hide writes in the NBR of the gobsmacking arrogance of the Official Assignee, the lack of accountability and the general parlous state of insolvency.

I have also been investigating several liquidators and I know of one who has recovered millions from debtors and also banked millions in fees leaving a few cents in the dollar for aggrieved creditors.

The whole industry appears peppered with former bankrupts, banned directors and convicted criminals.

The Official Assignee office is frankly tits at their work.

The whole industry is filled with ratbags and run like the wild west.

As I said the whole industry is filled from top to bottom with people who are little better than mafia stand over merchants.

On Whale Oil on 20 June 2016: Alarming incompetence at the Insolvency Service

One thing I admire about Rodney Hide, is that he sticks by his mates. But this story highlights some dreadful incompetence at the Insolvency Service. This is not an isolated case. I am sitting on files of equally alarming incompetence in the Auckland office of the Official Assignee.

It is so bad in some instances it might well be considered corruption, such is the inaction on several bankruptcies and the carry-on of the bankrupts.

It?s not that one officer with one decision screwed up. The very guidelines for their staff are based on the wrong law.

The minister should by rights have an independent inquiry into the Insolvency Service?s failure to stick within its own statute. I could help him. Indeed, I have enough in my own file to make his eyes water. I stand ready to serve.

As will I.

Slater has shown more interest in trying to serve his own interests.

But that didn’t work out for him in the current defamation case. I doubt he will be seeing bankruptcy as such a joke now.

Time will tell how his bankruptcy, his liquidation, and his blog will fare.

Slater: “Bankruptcy is just a joke…pretty much meaningless”

A few years ago Cameron Slater posted on Whale Oil “Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims” and claimed “the process of being in bankruptcy pretty much meaningless”.

He even suggested how easy it was to continue to operate companies and hide assets and that it wasn’t common to be prosecuted for it.

Bankruptcy is just a joke, really

by Cameron Slater on May 6, 2014 at 1:00pm

Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims

The number of times bankrupts hide assets and continue to operate companies by using a puppet on the paperwork is so frequent as to make the process of being in bankruptcy pretty much meaningless.

Use of trusts, partners or girlfriends to “own” things and plain hiding of assets from the Official Assignee are very common.

What isn’t common is for bankrupts to be prosecuted for this behaviour.

He probably didn’t think he would end up being bankrupt, but now he is, and appears to have rearranged companies and assets, he may be hoping that Official Assignees really are easy to hide things from, and are unlikely to hold miscreants to account.

See (Stuff):  Whale Oil company previously owned by Cameron Slater goes into liquidation

And: Whale Oil company put into liquidation after rearrangements

 

Ross to stand for NZ First in Botany – plan or joke?

It is easy to take this comment as a bit of a joke:

Funny thought ….. JLR jumps to NZF, a bit of theatre from Winny on saying XYZ, then JLR enters a by-election … wins for NZF and gets a plumb role in govt.

Oh so so funny

That seems ridiculous, but lets join a few dots.

That was said by someone with a close association with Cameron Slater.

Early last year Winston Peters’ lawyer represented Slater in his defamation case versus Colin Craig (unsuccessfully).

For many years Slater had criticised and ridiculed Peters, but suddenly last year switched to supporting Peters and NZ First through the election campaign. This may have simply been a way of trying to damage Bill English and National, who he had fallen out with, but it did raise some questions of why the sudden switch.

This year Slater has continued to attack National, and has attacked Simon Bridges since he took over the leadership.

When Jami-Lee Ross was ejected from the National caucus and took leave from Parliament (again) Slater became prominent in his support of Ross, and used information and secret recordings from Ross to attack Bridges and National. Some of Slater’s Whale Oil helpers have continued with their anti-bridges/National agenda.

Yesterday Peters announced that NZ First would proxy vote for Ross in Parliament – see NZ First proxy voting for Jami-lee Ross. Peters sounded uncomfortable trying to explain this unusual arrangement.

RNZ:  NZ First to hold Jami-Lee Ross’ proxy vote

Speaking to reporters at Parliament, Mr Peters said the decision was made in the “spirit of representation” to ensure Botany voters were heard in Parliament.

“We’re not here to kick the National Party,” Mr Peters said.

“We are here to say to the people of Botany… you deserve to have your voice heard.”

As long as Ross stays away from Parliament the voice of the people won’t be heard in Parliament, so this is a strange claim – unless Peters is just trying to impress Botany voters perhaps.

Back to the ‘funny’ comment – I would have thought that Peters was too politically astute to stand Parliament’s most discredited MP for NZ First in a by-election. But Slater and his mates could be silly enough to think it is a cunning plan. He and the person who made the comment have histories of trying some fairly stupid stunts.

I guess anything is possible but it is very hard to see Ross stand any chance if he tried to keep his Botany seat, even if he happens to recover from his claimed health problems in time for the campaign – someone who is unable to do their job in Parliament would struggle to get votes in an electorate.

Peters must realise this, so it’s hard to see him going for this unless he thought it was a way to kick National – when he says something like “We’re not here to kick the National Party” that raises suspicions that that is exactly what his intention actually is, akin to his ‘with the greatest respect’ comments.

It would be remarkable if Ross could get anywhere near close to winning Botany.

If he somehow managed that, getting “a plumb role in govt” would also be a stretch. That would mean he would take over responsibilities of a current NZ First minister, which would be unlikely to go down well. And Labour would be nuts to accept Ross in their Cabinet.

So this all seems to be a big joke – except that I wouldn’t put it past Slater and his mates to think it was a cunning plan.

It would go something like this:

  • Ross too sick to attend Parliament
  • NZ First proxy votes for Ross
  • Ross resigns from Parliament
  • Ross now not sick and stands for NZ First in Botany by-election, and wins
  • Ross appointed Cabinet Minister, replacing Tracey Martin as Minister of Children and Minister of (Internal) Affairs

Yes, it’s a joke.

Americans can trust Trump “when he’s not joking’

What if his whole presidency is a bad joke?

This would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the White House PR team themselves seeming to struggling so much telling what are jokjes and what are serious comments from Trump.

The Hill: Spicer: Americans can trust what Trump says, ‘if he’s not joking’

At Monday’s White House briefing, NBC’s Peter Alexander asked whether Americans “can trust it to be real” when the president comments on something.

“If he’s not joking, of course,” Spicer replied. “Every time that he speaks authoritatively, he’s speaking as president of United States.”

When Alexander followed up to ask if Trump still believes that 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, Spicer confirmed that the president still believes that to be true.

Alexander also asked if Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election are “phony or real.”

Spicer sought to clarify Trump’s use of the word “wiretap,” arguing that the president was speaking in broad terms about surveillance.

“He doesn’t really believe that President Obama tapped his phone personally, but I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election,” Spicer said. “That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then.”

“The president used the word ‘wiretap’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities during that.”

Spicer and Conway are really struggling to make sense of and then explain away Trump’s Twitter attacks.

And this will be blamed on the media too I suppose.

Will Trump start to use a #joke tag in his funny tweets so that Spicer and Conway don’t make themselves the targets of the jokes?

The joke going around Labour

Tracey Watkins writes at Stuff – Labour misses points-scoring chances – where she mentions a joke in Labour circles.

There’s a joke doing the rounds in the Labour Party as it prepares to name a new leader next week.

If it was up to the fans, Buck Shelford would still be captaining the All Blacks, the joke goes.

Not all MPs will find that funny.

Mickey Savage and Norm Kirk can’t be brought back. There has been ongoing suggestions to bring back Helen but she seems to be committed to United Nations having left behind Divided Labour.

But the joke touches on something that is quite serious.

Labour’s leadership primary is hugely popular with its grassroots – demonstrated by the 3000-strong turnout at meet-the-candidate meetings across the country.

But it has not done the Labour caucus or the next Labour leader any favours. It was the grassroots who imposed their “Buck Shelford” on the caucus last time round over the MPs vehemently-held belief that David Cunliffe was unelectable.

We will find out what leader the grassroots and the union affiliates impose on caucus this time.

This is a major challenge for the leadership contenders – to appeal enough to the vocal activists in the party, to the remaining diehard members, to the unions and to caucus enough to be chosen, but then to become attractive to a much wider constituency, to become electable.

Cunliffe won because he spoke the language of the activists and in the process committed Labour to a course that had no allure to the swathes of middle New Zealand the party wants to woo.

One of Cunliffe’s major failings was that he spoke the language of each audience he was facing, and that language kept changing as much as his audiences.

His lack of consistency and widely perceived lack of authenticity was a major handicap.

Twelve months later, here we go again, though with one important difference: there is no Cunliffe in the mix.

It will be important that Labour’s new leader can widen their appeal without being a traffic light chameleon, expanding on their in-house campaign principles without flashing too much of a different colour each time the traffic changes.

Labour’s lack of rebuilding over the past six years has been a sad political joke.

The party needs to choose a new leader who can seriously attack their problems while being seen to have an ordinary person sense of humour.