15 Oct 2014

Trust members' bank accounts frozen

6:13 pm on 15 October 2014

Half the members of a trust that owns a large Northland forest have had their bank accounts frozen after its funds dwindled from $1 million to just $13.

Parengarenga 3G Trust has about 500 hectares of forest in the Far North.

The Maori Land Court removed four of the Trust members in August after $600,000 of the Trusts funds were paid into their bank accounts between September 2012 and 2013.

Judge David Ambler said nearly half a million dollars was paid to Stephen Henare, a trust linked to him and a company in which he has a 10 percent shareholding.

He said $100,000 was paid to Patrick and Margaret Dixon while Darryn Henare received less significant payments.

Judge Ambler said it was not clear what happened to the remaining $400,000.

But he said the frequency and scale of the payments support an arguable case of equitable if not actual fraud.

The court judgement said the trust was now in debt and the forest is uninsured.

The next court hearing is scheduled for December.