3 Sep 2013

Assets of prospective Crafar farms buyer frozen

11:51 am on 3 September 2013

The High Court has permanently frozen New Zealand assets linked to a bankrupt businesswoman and her business partner at the centre of a failed bid to buy the Crafar farms.

May Wang is facing corruption charges in Hong Kong after UBNZ Funds Management, a company she owned at the time, tried to buy 22 Crafar farms on behalf of the Hong Kong-listed business Natural Dairy.

It is alleged Ms Wang and her business partner Jack Chen - also known as Jack Keen - defrauded Natural Dairy by providing false accounts that overstated the profit of the farms by about $50 million.

Authorities claim the alleged fraud made millions for Ms Wang, Mr Chen and Mr Chen's wife.

At the request of the High Court in Hong Kong, a temporary order was made in April, imposing a freeze on New Zealand assets associated with the three, including properties held in the name of UBNZ Funds Management.

In a judgement released on Monday, the High Court in Auckland made that freeze permanent, and gave the Crown permission to sell assets held by UBNZ.

Justice Courtney's order also covers Fonterra shares held by companies associated with Ms Wang.

And it allows homes in Auckland, as well as farms, to be sold if mortgage payments are missed.