27 Mar 2010

Jailed Australian becomes director of NZ firms

3:32 pm on 27 March 2010

The Companies Office is investigating how an Australian man managed to become a director of two New Zealand companies while in jail in Sydney.

Nick Petroulias was found guilty of selling confidential client information while working as the former assistant commissioner of the Australian Tax Office.

Despite being jailed in June 2008, Petroulias has become a director of two local companies in the past four months. Petroulias will not be eligible for parole until June.

Documents at the Companies Office show he signed on as a director of an existing New Zealand company last November and another in January.

A spokesperson for the Companies Office says it began an investigation this week into whether Petroulias is disqualified from holding the positions.

A criminal conviction in Australia that prevents someone becoming a director there also carries the same consequence here, the spokesperson says.

When a directorship is found to be invalid, the Companies Office normally writes and asks the person to pass the role to someone else.

Commerce Minister Simon Power says despite the prisoner registering as a director, he is confident the companies registration system is robust, and has no plans to alter it.

Mr Power says a review has been conducted, and he's satisfied the current system is adequate.

The Minister asked his officials to review the system in January, after an Auckland-based company was suspected of having links to arms trading.