Court probes former property developer's financial affairs

 The Official Assignee has refused to automatically discharge Jamie Peters from bankruptcy after three years.

Former high-flying property developer Jamie Peters' financial affairs are under examination by Auckland High Court after a challenge to his discharge from bankruptcy.

The Official Assignee has refused to automatically discharge Mr Peters from bankruptcy after three years and sought a two-day public examination of him.

A property developer in Auckland and Wellington for more than 20 years, Mr Peters was made bankrupt in October 2009, owing creditors $181 million.

The Official Assignee, which has been investigating a series of asset transfers in the lead-up to his bankruptcy, wants the term extended for another three years.

Mr Peters told the court he lives at 86 Omaha Flats Rd, north of Auckland, with his wife Rebecca Burton and their young baby daughter.

But he says he also lives for at least four days a week in an apartment in the Shed 24 complex at Auckland's Princes Wharf, provided for him by his employer, MHL.

Mr Peters says he does not rent the apartment himself, and does not consider it to be part of his remuneration package.

He did not believe he was obliged he had to advise the Official Assignee of his dual residence for the last eight months because it was provided to benefit his employer by having him in the city regularly and did not change his income.

Mr Peters was also asked questions about his bank accounts, business associates, his wife's income and how his living expenses are met.

Bought $18,000 ring

Mr Peters married former real estate employee Rebecca Burton in April 2011. He told the court he bought her an engagement ring from Partridge Jewellers for "about $18,000" – after he was made bankrupt.

Mr Peters said the Omaha home once belonged to his wife's parents. The couple bought it from the James and Anne Burton Family Trust.

Monthly mortgage payments are met through drawings from a bank account for Ms Burton's company Becky Peters Fashion Distribution.

According to a sworn statement by a solicitor, Mr Peters had said he had money "salted away" but Mr Peters denied using those words and said he thought the conversation with the solicitor was a set-up.

Commenting on findings in the Official Assignee's report Mr Peters said: "I completely disagree with what you've accused me of."

Proceedings before Associate Judge David Abbott are set down for at least three more days.

Work from Mr Peters’ 20-year property career include the Gulf Harbour housing development north of Auckland, precinct development at Quay Park, Wellington’s Sanctum and The Finance Centre in Auckland.

He was adjudicated bankrupt after failing to make good on a court order to pay Marac Finance $3 million, $2.8 million of which was lent for his Gulf Harbour subdivision.

The former Rich Lister's personal liability for debts relating to his developments made him more than $100 million in the red, which he said was directly related to the credit crisis.

It is understood the Official Assignee has had a big task in looking into Mr Peter's bankruptcy because of the large number of companies he was a director of.

Eyebrows were raised over his bankruptcy because just before it occurred, a number of his assets were transferred to companies related to the law firm that advised on many of his dealings.

The Serious Fraud Office last year opened an investigation into Gulf Corporation which Mr Peters used to own. It was placed into receivership just months after his banruptcy.

Before closing the investigation in February, the SFO passed on information about Mr Peters' financial affairs to the Official Assignee.

gbond@nbr.co.nz