Sir Ngatata Love laments misplaced trust in Shaan Stevens, says name misused on documents

Former Wellington Tenths Trust chairman Ngatata Love says he misplaced his trust in Shaan Stevens and that both Mr Stevens and Lorraine Skiffington misused his name on documents presented in his fraud trial, the High Court heard today.

Love is charged with obtaining a secret commission and obtaining significant sums by deception. The Crown says he signed an agreement in late 2006 with Auckland property developers Redwood Group and Equinox Group to ensure they could lease land owned by the Tenths Trust, and that he received service fees through Pipitea Street Development (PSDL), a company owned by his companion Lorraine Skiffington, without the trust's knowledge. That money is said to have been used to repay a property loan.

In his third day in the witness box at the High Court in Wellington, Sir Ngatata was presented a copy of an agreement outlining $3 million to be paid to Ms Skiffington when the lease agreement for the land was signed by the trust, with $1.5 million payable immediately, and titled "Ngatata's working copy" in handwriting.

Sir Ngatata denied it was his document, and said the handwriting was Ms Skiffington's.

"I can see what you're saying but I never worked on it. That was their business," Love said. "We [the Tenths Trust] couldn't get involved with that; otherwise we essentially became developers ourselves."

Crown prosecutor Grant Burston also presented emails sent by Mr Stevens where he referenced Sir Ngatata and Ms Skiffington wanting to sign agreements to lease the land and gain the payments in the service agreement.

Sir Ngatata was surprised by some of the emails, at one point saying "Jesus Christ, Shaan Stevens telling me what to do. Sorry.

"There's a lot of things I realise my name was used on where I didn't give instructions to people," Sir Ngatata said. "Both Lorraine Skiffington and Shaan Stevens are using my name in a manner that is not acceptable."

Mr Burston said Sir Ngatata had expected cheques as a result of signing this lease, which would pay off the mortgage on a property in Moana Rd, Plimmerton, to which Sir Ngatata responded "absolutely not" and said that mortgage was Skiffington's to settle.

"I'm afraid I trusted Shaan Stevens and I realise that trust was wrong. He was a lawyer, an accountant, a member of the Commerce Commission and I think a pro-vice chancellor. He was an eminent person and I signed a lot of documents."

Sir Ngatata also said he had trusted Ian Hay, a lawyer who worked on the Moana Rd transaction, but no longer did, earning a laugh from the public gallery when he referenced his regret at trusting a lawyer.

The judge-alone trial before Justice Graham Lang is continuing.

(BusinessDesk)

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