Prominent unionist and left-wing agitator Matt McCarten is taking offers on his life insurance policy in an attempt to settle a $150,000 tax debt.
The cancer-striken Unite union boss said the policy had a face value of $230,000 and prompt payout was highly likely following a terminal diagnosis.
“I was given odds last year, in September, of a 0.8% chance of survival,” he told the National Business Review of the cancer that has spread to his liver.
“If anyone wants to buy the policy I’m open to offers. They can invest in my death, bet on it, and give the tax department the money that I owe them,” he said.
Mr McCarten said he was happy to provide potential bidders with access to his medical records “if they want to make it a calculated gamble”.
The policy came to light in the most recent liquidators’ report for Unite Support Services, a company controlled by Mr McCarten put into liquidation by the IRD last year.
The most recent report for Unite Support Services notes $152,801 is owed, mostly in unpaid tax, and the only potential assets included a now-terminated lease and the life insurance policy held with Sovereign.
Alastair Stewart, a spokesman for liquidator the Insolvency and Trustee Service, said the failed company had been paying the premiums on the policy but as it was under Mr McCarten’s name they were unable to claim it.
Mr Stewart said the premium payments made by the company were being investigated and may be subject to a demand being made against Mr McCarten.
Contacted by NBR, Mr McCarten sought to pre-empt the investigation and said the policy was always intended to settle the company’s debts but he was unaware a market existed for life insurance policies.
“There’s two certainties in life – taxes and death – and I thought I had to die first before I could fix my finances up,” the Herald on Sunday columnist said.
Mr McCarten said the policy was taken out before his cancer diagnosis and its existence was part of the reason he allowed tax debts to mount. He accepted the criticism lobbed his way over United Support Services unpaid debt and described the situation as “embarrassing”.
Parties interested in purchasing the policy should contact Mr McCarten who is seeking a quick sale. “I’m aware that I’m running against the clock and I’m determined not to die in debt,” he said.
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