January 09, 2018
Adlam associate barred from trust
The Maori Land Court has refused to seat a close associate of disgraced entrepreneur Bev Adam on a land trust because it says her presence could impede efforts to claw back more than $12 million in stolen profits from a geothermal power scheme.
In the latest move in a saga that has dragged on from a decade, Judge Craig Coxhead was asked to rule on the outcome of elections to the two trusts connected to the scheme, which uses waste water from the Kawerau paper mill.
The power station is built on land belonging to the Parish of Matata 39A 2A Trust, known as the Bath Trust, and uses geothermal steam piped from a neighbouring block owned by Matata Parish 39A 2B 2A Trust, known as the Farm Trust.
Adlam was removed from the Bath Trust in 2014 after the court found that after convincing fellow trustees to go along with the plans to develop the plant with Israeli company Ormat Technologies, she exercised a secret option and sold the plant to Gisborne-based infrastructure company Eastland Group, pocketing $11.2 million.
The Court of Appeal found the former Bay of Plenty businesswoman of the year owed the Bath Trust $12.7 million including interest.
In a December 21 decision Judge Coxhead said Adlam refuses to make payment or propose any realistic arrangement in respect of the debt, which is now over $17 million.
As enforcing the judgment will be a major part of the new trust’s workload, it was inappropriate to appoint Elaine August because of her personal and professional relationship with Adlam.
Ms August is the general manager of the Ngati Tuwharetoa (Bay of Plenty) Settlement Trust, which Adlam co-chairs.
Judge Coxhead also refused to seat Lawrence Niao because he was on the previous trust, and the aim of the elections was to elect two new sets of trustees to allow the two trusts to move ahead.
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