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Denton Morrell undefended at liquidation hearing

By Victoria Young

July 19 (BusinessDesk) - Three lawyers from different firms attended the High Court at Auckland today to see wealth management company Denton Morrell moved into liquidation.

However, nobody showed up to represent the company which has been suspected by the Department of Internal Affairs of breaching anti-money laundering laws.

The Registrar of Companies brought the application following the death of Denton Morrell’s sole director and ultimate owner Matthew Butterfield last month.

A company cannot operate without a director so the registrar sought to have it wound up.

As the application before associate judge Warwick Smith went undefended, Denton Morrell and five associated companies were put into liquidation. Meredith Connell’s Lucy Deane represented the registrar.

PwC’s John Fisk and Lara Bennett were appointed liquidators for Denton Morrell, Spindrift, DM GP, DM Corporate Services, Denton Morrell Group and DM Wealth Solutions.

The case to liquidate a sixth entity, Denton Morrell Holdings LP, was deferred for another day.

This is because the entity is a limited partnership and not a company. Associate judge Smith said it was beyond his jurisdiction to liquidate limited partnerships and produced a minute of associate judge Roger Bell which appeared to confirm this.

Of the other lawyers watching the case, one said he was interested because he had a client in the same industry, while another approached by BusinessDesk would not say what her interest was. The third left before this reporter could talk to her.

In April last year, Denton Morrell was outed by Radio NZ as a company suspected of involvement with a worldwide network of companies and assets connected to the families of Azerbaijan leaders.

The DIA said earlier this week it had not yet taken further action against Denton Morrell following a formal warning but was working with its legal representatives to “resolve the matter.”

The government department issued the warning under anti-money laundering legislation, stating that between November 2015 and May 2018 Denton Morrell failed to conduct customer due diligence, monitor accounts and establish, implement or maintain an Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) programme.

While it did not allege actual money laundering, the department can issue a formal warning when officials believe a firm has engaged in conduct which it could be civilly liable for.


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