On September 15th LF published the post “The Die is Cast – Perpetual Business Failure Matt Blomfield goes all trekky” a humourous look at Matthew Blomfields latest scam vehicle “Bishop Warden”.
Within a matter of hours the wheels inside Grant Thornton’s human Resources department must have started turning and a short time later, it would appear, that long time associate and high grossing liquidator Greg Sheriff had been given his marching orders, Sheriff now apparently looking for work among New Zealand’s over supply of thoroughly corrupt insolvency practitioners.
Grant Thornton refused to discuss the matter of Sheriffs disappearance from the firm, in fact the people LF spoke to were decidedly cagey at the mere mention of Greg Sheriff’s name.
Now it’s not the first time that Mr Sheriff has been given a little tickle up by the media. We here at LF have written extensively about Sheriffs dodgy deals, as has kiwi blogger Cameron Slater of Whale Oil fame.
In fact, Slater’s contribution inspired his nemesis Matthew Blomfield to file yet another spurious memorandum eventually causing most of the articles to be removed on the most extraordinarily flimsy pretext, that Blomfields shadow had been seen somewhere in the same room as Sheriff
Other articles do however remain, albeit modified:
TIME TO SHOOT THE SHERRIFF – A SPECIAL INVESTIGATION CTD
by Cameron Slater on August 20, 2015 at 8:00am
by Stephen Cook
A LEADING accountancy firm has been implicated in an alleged plot to swindle hundreds of thousands of dollars from Inland Revenue.
Liquidators from Grant Thornton, which boasts annual worldwide earnings of $4.7 billion and has been acclaimed as one of the best managed international firms, are among those under investigation by IRD and the Serious Fraud Office for their part in an alleged conspiracy to rip off the taxman.
IRD has invoked wide-ranging powers under section six of the Tax Administration Act to investigate experienced liquidators Greg Sherriff and Tim Downes and their handling of what should have been a relatively simple company liquidation back in 2013.Two years on the case is attracting plenty of attention with claims liquidators in conjunction with an Auckland law firm systematically robbed the company blind and withheld money that should have gone to the taxman.
The most damning allegations concern a payment $27,000 from the owner of the company to ‘bribe’ liquidators and IRD staff and the owner was then threatened violence if word ever got out about the deal.
The company and its then owner sought advice over its $400,000 tax bill and played an integral part in negotiating the deal, which one group of concerned taxpayers say has compromised the integrity of the New Zealand tax system.
Last week that group of taxpayers met with IRD forensic investigators to discuss their concerns amid calls for criminal charges to be laid against Sherriff, Downes and the three men associated with the Auckland law firm at the centre of the controversy.
Since then IRD have interviewed the owner of the company, who has provided a detailed account of the alleged plot to defraud IRD out of nearly $350,000.
At that meeting he reserved special criticism for Greg Sherriff, accusing him of ‘fee gouging’ and failing to carry out his obligations under the Companies Act.
Sherriff charged a whopping $45,000 to liquidate the company, which had just one creditor.
The company sold in September 2013 for $385,000 but had close to $400,000 in tax liabilities, a large amount of which was in interest and penalties.
The owner sought advice about whether there was a possibility of making a lump sum payment in return for a reduction in penalties and was told that was possible – but only if he coughed up money to bribe IRD.
He handed over the money and a few days later was told IRD had agreed to a deal involving a full and final settlement of $75,000.
It later emerged the only deal that was done for $75,000 was with Greg Sherriff.
He accepted $75,000 from the company with $30,000 going to IRD and $45,000 in liquidators fees going to Grant Thornton.
Section 253 of the Act states ‘the principal duty of a liquidator is to take possession of, protect, realize and distribute the assets, or the proceeds of the realisation of the assets, of the company to its creditors.’
The question in this case is why Sherriff, and to a lesser degree Downes, did not go after the $385,000 from the sale of the company?
He wouldn’t have had to look far. It was in the trust account of the law firm acting for the company who helped themselves to tens of thousands of dollars in fees without the consent of the company owner or liquidator.
He is angry about that and the deal with IRD, who he fears could now go after him for the balance of what’s owed because the liquidators withheld crucial information about the true financial position of the company.
He maintains he is broke and if that happens he’ll have to file for bankruptcy.
He blames Sherriff.
He says in his first liquidators report he clearly stated the company had sold for $400,000 so knew there was money available to pay IRD. He believed Sherriff knew all along the money was sitting in the law firm’s trust account, but even if he didn’t he had powers under the Companies Act which would have provided full disclosure.
But rather than invoke those powers Sherriff did nothing, said the company owner.
There was just one 15 minute meeting where he claims nothing was discussed in relation to the company’s financial affairs.
In response to the allegations, Downes said: “The issues you have outlined in your email below in relation to Grant Thornton, Greg Sherriff and myself are utter nonsense.
Accordingly, should you or any other party publish any material in relation to the matters you have referred to below, we will commence legal action against such parties for defamation.”
WHAT WE WANTED TO KNOW FROM GRANT THORNTON
- Is Grant Thornton aware the Inland Revenue Department in conjunction with the Serious Fraud Office are presently conducting an investigation pursuant to section 6 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 into the conduct of Greg Sherriff and an Auckland law firm in relation to the liquidation of an Auckland company back in 2013?
- What is Grant Thornton’s official position in respect of Greg Sherriff in relation to this multi-agency investigation focusing on:
- The liquidation of this company
- All liquidations involving Sherriff and an associate of that Auckland law firm
- Whether Sherriff and an associate of that Auckland law firm profited personally from the company liquidation
- Whether an organized criminal group has been collaborating to defraud the IRD to the extent it has brought the department into disrepute?
- Will Grant Thornton provide an undertaking it will cooperate fully with the IRD investigation into wide-ranging claims of criminal conduct and breaches of the Companies Act and Crimes Act involving Greg Sherriff and others in relation to the company liquidation
- Would Grant Thornton consider placing Greg Sherriff on paid leave to ensure the integrity of the IRD investigation is not compromised in any way.
- Does Grant Thornton stand by its fee of $45,000 to liquidate the company and is this fee in line with what the company would usually charge to wind up a company this size where there is only one creditor?
- Is Grant Thornton in a position to explain why Greg Sherriff accepted the sum of just $30,000 as settlement of the $400,000 tax bill with IRD when he stated in his first liquidators report the company had sold for $385,000?
- Does Grant Thornton believe Greg Sherriff’s decision to accept $30,000 to settle this tax bill was in keeping with Section 253 of the Companies Act which states ‘the principal duty of a liquidator is to take possession of, protect, realize and distribute the assets, or the proceeds of the realization of the assets, of the company to its creditors.’
- Given the obligation a liquidator has to the creditors, what explanation could Greg Sherriff have for not invoking the powers of the Companies Act to ask where the proceeds ended up from the sale of the company in question and make call on the owner of the company to repay the money he had taken.
- The company owner says in a sworn affidavit that Greg Sherriff did not speak to him once in person about the liquidation of his company. Is it standard protocol to exclude the ‘director’ from discussions, which ultimately could prove useful in terms of meeting their obligations under the Companies Act?
- Greg Sherriff, in his first liquidators report, states he relied upon information by the director in preparing his statement. In his sworn affidavit, the company owner says that is a lie. What is Grant Thornton’s response to this?.
- Greg Sherriff states in an audio recording that he prepared a lengthy report to Inland Revenue in relation to this liquidation However, forensic investigators from Inland Revenue say they have seen no such report. Does one exist – or was Greg Sherriff lying?
- Is Grant Thornton satisfied with its internal auditing policies and procedures to stamp out fraud in light of these latest concerns?
- Is there a requirement on Greg Sherriff to meet certain financial targets for the company – and if so is he meeting those targets?
The story continues…
The Whale Oil blog was forced to remove parts of Cooks investigation, this despite everything which Stephen Cook had penned being 100% true; with yet another halfwit Kiwi judge deciding to give Blomfield carte blanc. Whilst Slater did not mention Blomfield’s involvement we here at LF have no such limitations.
That sort of bullshit doesn’t work with LF, although, it seems, not through want of effort, again courtesy of Blomfield;
Blomfield’s most recent court action, a spurious little claim in the local Kiwi High Court, where the serial fraudster has falsely claimed that a court order preventing Cameron Slater publishing in New Zealand, also, as if by some magical power, applied outside New Zealand’s jurisdiction and thus to LF, and more recently a further false claim, again made under oath, that LF is NZ based and thus subject to a New Zealand courts jurisdiction. The fact is the NZ police tried this stunt years ago and were told to fuck-off.
The second falsehood has caused damage, in fact prompting our recent change of domain address (we’ll be posting an article detailing the extent of Blomfields efforts to silence LF in the near future).
Given that Blomfields claims are complete and utter bullshit, complete fabrications, designed along the same lines of his feigned defamation tort against Slater, an attempt to identify sources, a tort that evaporated once those names had been obtained. It should be obvious by now that nothing will prevent team LF from publishing stories that may be more than a little uncomfortable for the fraudsters involved.
We’re also confident that we’ll eventually have the .com domain returned; an eventuality that may, in the longer term, also cost the New Zealand Attorney General a few dollars in damages, given the Judges more than obvious incompetence and want of jurisdiction.
So back to Greg Sheriff – Sheriff’s sudden departure sometime in September this year, likely following LF’s report, may have been triggered by that article, certainly the chronology indicates this possibility, as does Blomfield’s latest legal circus.
The truth however is that Grant Thornton had received prior warning of an impending catastrophe when the IRD first started looking very closely at the practices of Sheriff, and his extremely close association with Blomfield and Johnson way back in July/August 2015.
Who knows perhaps Grant Thornton’s managing partner has now had the opportunity to go through the emails between Sheriff and Blomfield and may have finally realised that the firm was sitting on a ticking bomb; the possibility of litigation that had the potential to bury everyone involved, wiping out their indemnity insurer and every partner at Grant Thornton.
Of course, at the time, Stephen Cook wrote his piece for Whale Oil, the big kahuna at Grant Thornton, Tim Downs, made all sorts of grunting noises, among them the usual Blomfield type threats of a defamation tort.
“The issues you have outlined in your email below in relation to Grant Thornton, Greg Sherriff and myself are utter nonsense.
Accordingly, should you or any other party publish any material in relation to the matters you have referred to below, we will commence legal action against such parties for defamation.” – Tim Downs
Downs grunts very quickly evaporated into thin air, no doubt as soon as he realized that absolutely everything in Stephen Cooks articles could be substantiated; that there had been a criminal conspiracy between Blomfield and Sheriff, a conspiracy that had already resulted in one of Blomfield’s victims loosing everything but his shirt, with that money going to Downs firm, Blomfield and Sheriff.
The victim, Mr Shiv Mattu, had also made a complaint to the NZ police at the time, alleging that Blomfield had blackmailed him (a Blomfield specialty), successfully obtaining cash to the tune of $28’000.00 under duress of reporting his “client”, Mr Mattu, to the IRD, a criminal complaint that, strangely, may have been put on the back burner by New Zealand’s National Police Head-Quarters; along with many others – Blomfield seemingly being treated by police as one of their own, a protected species – Teflon.
Suffice to say, we here at LF suspect that Sheriff’s superiors, in particular Damien Grant, may have held grave concerns around Sheriffs conduct following an IRD investigation into the firm, triggered by serious accusations of over charging, theft, collusion and various frauds committed by both Sheriff and Blomfield; deals that were being put together enabling Blomfield and his accomplices, including lawyer Bruce Johnson, to unlawfully obtain information of receivership’s and liquidations, where they might stand to obtain a pecuniary advantage.
Interestingly Bruce Johnson is now also before the New Zealand Law Society’s Professional Standards Disciplinary Committee, represented by none other than barrister Andrew Gilchrist, the same bent lawyer that has assisted Blomfield with his latest attempt to gag LF, a media outlet.
Now, if Tim Downes, and or New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department (IRD) fraud inspectors, had only thought to go to Greg Sheriff’s emails they may well have found additional evidence of the aforementioned frauds and collusion.
An arrangement that was a right little earner for Blomfield, Johnson and Sheriff, wherein Sheriff had been providing sensitive commercial information that Blomfield and others would not have otherwise been entitled to.
Information that could undoubtedly have jeopardised the finacial positions of the companies involved, entities that had been entrusted to Grant Thornton as liquidators and receivers. Information that enabled Blomfield and his team to work out how to extract value from said companies, their owners and or creditors.
Now we will probably never know if Tim Downs and or the IRD did think to take a closer look at Greg Sheriffs emails back in August 2015, but it seems that someone else has since certainly had that thought and subsequently acted on it.
As aforesaid, LF is now in possession of a tranche of documents which we are slowly working our way through.
We have additionally been advised, by our anonymous source, “RawPrawn”, that team LF are not the only party to have received these documents.
RawPrawn has alleged that “significant others”, including New Zealand’s IRD, are also now in possession of a variety of separate tranches, specific sets of documents and information, that relate to their particular area’s of interest and or compliance jurisdiction. Documents which evidence the relationship and goings on between Blomfield, journalists, the REAA, corrupt Kiwi Estate Agents, financiers, lawyers including Bruce Johnson, Greg Sheriff and many others.