BUSINESSDESK: A hearing into $60 million of so-called "introduced assets" from the empire of late businessman Allan Hubbard has been adjourned until May next year after the statutory managers of Aorangi Securities argued they needed more time to assess a mountain of documents.
The ruling of Judge Lester Chisholm in the Timaru High Court adjourns the case until May 20, from its original start date of October 29. Some 5000 pages of documents have been distributed to other counsel in the case, including those acting for Mr Hubbard's wife Jean.
Justice Chisholm said he had "reluctantly decided to adjourn the fixture", noting that other parties including Jean Hubbard were "extremely unhappy" at the request.
The document overload partly reflected the shift to Christchurch from Timaru of Grant Thornton, the statutory managers, in April, which left the accounting firm with some 70 storage boxes and 100 lever arch files that it had not had time to digest properly. Some of these related to Aorangi.
The statutory managers for the Hubbard's frozen investment vehicles is chasing some $60 million it claims were transferred into Aorangi Securities in an unconventional manner and including interests in farm-owning partnerships, shares and loans.
According to the decision, released as a minute from the judge, Jean Hubbard's lawyer Andrew Butler raised concerns about her health, noting "she was not a young person" and possibly wouldn't be fit for cross-examination next May.
He also raised the issue of whether Mrs Hubbard could bear the costs of the adjournment and substantive hearing.
Mrs Hubbard, who is the executor of her late husband's estate, denies $60 million of assets were transferred into Aorangi Securities and is seeking to keep them, according to the latest report into the Aorangi statutory management.
Across the entire statutory management, the managers have reaped fees and disbursements of some $5.8 million and racked up legal fees of $3.4 million.
In December, the statutory managers sought an independent review of their administration by the then-Ministry of Economic Development, which is now under the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment umbrella, to allay fears they were charging too much.