8 Mar 2017

Brother of late billionaire Michael Erceg loses Supreme Court appeal

1:36 pm on 8 March 2017

The bankrupt brother of the late billionaire Michael Erceg has failed in the latest chapter of the bitter dispute over the dead man's legacy.

Supreme Court in Wellington

The Supreme Court Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The value of the money in the Erceg Estate has been estimated by the National Business Review at $1.6 billion, putting the Erceg family at fourth spot in the Rich List.

Michael Erceg died in a helicopter crash in 2005.

He owned the company Independent Liquor and had put money into two trusts.

His brother, Ivan Erceg, fought a marathon legal battle all the way up to the Supreme Court seeking disclosure of trust documents.

But he lost in the substantive issues at all levels, the High Court, Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court.

In turning down his case, the Supreme Court ruled disclosure would not be in the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust as a whole.

It said the unusual circumstances of the case gave rise to real concerns about confidentiality, particularly in relation to the identities of beneficiaries who received distributions of money.

Those concerns outweighed the general expectation that basic trust information would be disclosed to a close beneficiary.

The court also stated that Ivan Erceg was not a named beneficiary of either trust, but was one of a class of discretionary and final beneficiaries of both trusts.

He had not, however, received distributions from either trust.

However, earlier in the hearing, counsel for the trustees, Lynette Therese Erceg and Darryl Edward Gregory, said Ivan Erceg had received $95 million from his brother.

The court said Ivan Erceg had been declared bankrupt in 2010 and had later been discharged, but the bankruptcy was not annulled.