Gold Seized in NZ Insolvency First


"Search and seizure order was made under the Insolvency Cross Border Act."

More than $1 million in gold and silver bullion has been confiscated from a Hamilton house after English bankruptcy trustees successfully sought a search and seizure order through the New Zealand courts—a first for a foreign insolvency case in NZ.

The bullion was allegedly hidden from creditors of retired English Psychiatrist Alan Geraint Simpson, 68, who was adjudged bankrupt by the High Court of England and Wales in September 2009.

Simpson, who has spent much of his time in New Zealand since at least 1993, lives in a two-story home in Hamilton owned by two trustees of a family trust.

Steven John Williams was appointed as trustee of Simpson's bankrupt estate in January. Acting through a New Zealand lawyer, he sought an order from the High Court at Hamilton for recognition of the English bankruptcy order as a foreign proceeding in New Zealand.

He alleged that Simpson had about US$3M (NZ$4.1M) in gold and silver bullion stored in three safes at the house.

In correspondence with Williams, Simpson denied personally trading in silver or gold. He did not respond to Williams' inquiries about whether his family trust or a company linked to the house, Sennex Ltd., had traded in bullion.

Police and insolvency assignees on Monday spent several hours searching the property and loaded more than $1M worth of bullion into a security van and took it to a bank vault in Auckland, where it will be held ahead of an October 1 hearing to determine its ownership.

The search and seizure order was made under the Insolvency Cross Border Act, which was introduced in 2006 for insolvency proceedings where a person bankrupted in another country has assets or debts in New Zealand. It is the first time such an order has been granted under the Act.

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