A former Auckland liquidator has been jailed for four years after stealing $130,000 from two companies he was acting for, committing perjury and obstructing a Serious Fraud Office investigation.
Geoffrey Martin Smith, 67, was sentenced today following a judge-alone trial in the Auckland District Court earlier this year.
After defending himself during the proceeding, Smith was found guilty by Judge Russell Collins in September of two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, two counts of perjury and two charges of obstructing an investigation.
Smith, who claimed he was immune from prosecution and the SFO had defamed him, was found to have stolen about $130,000 from two companies, HAD Garments and HB Garments, after being appointed liquidator in 2013.
The companies were known as truck shops and sold goods out of lorries on credit terms requiring small payments over many months.
Smith’s perjury charges were over documents he filed in civil proceedings concerning the same liquidation activities.
The obstruction charges were for his intentional failure to comply with two separate notices issued by the SFO during its investigation.
After today’s sentencing, SFO director Julie Read said Smith abused his position of trust to defraud the two companies.
“He also actively misled the court in proceedings relating to those companies and obstructed an SFO investigation,” she said in a statement.
“These offences resulted in additional public funds being spent to resolve this case. The SFO welcomes the court’s sentencing decision, which recognised the seriousness of the perjury and obstruction charges.”
Smith is already behind bars for unrelated drug offending and has a lengthy court history.
He was made bankrupt by the High Court for a third time in 2017 after failing to pay the receiver of HAD Garments and HB Garments, BDO’s Andrew McKay, some $595,775.
The majority of the owed debt – $540,000 – was linked to when he was acting as the companies’ liquidator, court documents obtained by the Herald show.
Smith was ordered to repay the receiver after a High Court ruling in 2016 found that while Smith was liquidator, $852,998 was dispersed from the companies’ accounts but $540,000 could not be accounted for.
He was also made bankrupt in 1989 and 2008.
Smith’s past offences also include tax fraud, document forgery and theft.
He and his wife, Barbara Jennifer Smith, were found guilty and convicted on 94 charges for offending between 2001 and 2006 against the Tax Administration Act.
At the time, they operated a partnership trading as Trellis and Fence Warehouse in the small Waikato town of Te Kauwhata. The business sold trellis, fencing, posts and railing and from about 2001 also sold kindling, primarily to Solid Energy in Huntly.
An approach to the Inland Revenue Department by an employee triggered an investigation by IRD in 2004. The couple’s unpaid taxes amounted to at least $570,000, the Crown said.
Smith was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and his wife given a nine-month home detention stint. His appeals were dismissed in 2008.
In 2000, He was sentenced to nine months in prison after being found guilty of theft and fraud while operating the Waikato-based New Zealand Free Ambulance Service.
His wife was also part of the scam and they were ordered to repay $6593 of stolen money to the Order of St John. Smith was also convicted of two fraud charges over his attempt to register the ambulance service with a false document in 1996.
In 1988, he was found guilty of fraud for the false valuation of machinery costing $159,000. He served nine months’ periodic detention and was ordered to pay reparations.
In a response to previous Herald requests for comment, Smith has said his name was “registered, copy written and solely privately owned” and demanded payment for its use. He has claimed the Herald already owed him some $50 million.
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