Members of the Otago Bowling Club are being held
accountable for more than $200,000 from the sale of its
grounds, which was split among members instead of being given
to community interests.
A six-month report by liquidator Trevor Laing and Associates
found the $350,000 gained from the sale was distributed among
the 14 remaining members of the club - going against its
constitution, which stated it should have been given to
Following the sale of the Arthur St club, payments of $16,552
were made to each member and an $85,000 payment was made to a
company owned by former club president Lester Nash, the
Mr Laing had been successful in retrieving payments made to
seven members, totalling $115,864, but was preparing to go to
court to retrieve the remaining $200,864 - including the
In his report, Mr Laing said he was concerned to find that,
on three occasions from 2007 to 2011, the club received legal
advice saying it could not distribute funds to members.
On top of that, the lawyer who acted for the club during the
property sale had also referred to how proceeds should be
''This letter, dated only six days before the payments to
members were made, goes as far as quoting in full the actual
section of the club's constitution relating to distribution
of funds on liquidation.
''Anyone reading that letter would be left in no doubt as to
the intent of the constitution,'' Mr Laing said.
''Instead, proceeds were distributed among members after a
meeting held at a church hall in November 2011, with 10
members choosing to take cheques and four choosing to have
the money paid into a trust.
''My view is that the establishment of the trust was simply a
sham to make the distribution from the club appear to have
some validity and disguise the fact that members were going
Mr Laing's impression was members were erroneously told at
the meeting that legal advice approved of their getting the
''Disappointingly, no-one at that meeting asked any specific
questions and importantly no-one asked to see the legal
''On a matter of such import, and given this was the sole
purpose of the meeting, I find this surprising.''
Mr Laing's concerns about the $85,000 payment to Lester Nash
for all shares in Southern Pearl Ltd related to the
assessment of the shares' value.
The payment was made as a result of an agreement giving the
company a 10-year licence to take spring water from the
club's grounds beginning in 2007.
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, Mr Laing said he
was ''surprised'' by the actions of the club's members and
the difficulty he had recovering money from some. The members
may have been ''blinded by the money'', he said.
Member and former green keeper Dave Cameron, who was among
those who received proceeds from the sale, said he and other
members were told a ''pack of lies'' by Mr Nash and treasurer
Lucien van der Bijl, an accountant, and were under the
impression everything was above board.
He had paid back his share, but believed some members may not
be able to afford to pay theirs back.
''There is one guy I know that lived from month to month,
pension day to pension day,'' he said.
Mr Nash said he had not misled members, who were given the
option of giving money to charity.
''No-one was forced to take the money,'' he said.
Mr Nash was unaware the club had received legal advice saying
it could not distribute funds to members, or that the
constitution said funds should be distributed to community
interests. He accepted that, as president, he should have
read that part of the constitution.
There was ''nothing wrong'' with the $85,000 payment made to
Southern Pearl Ltd, he said.
''In actual fact, the company was valued at a lot more than
$85,000 and ... I actually took less.''
He said he did not receive a payment of $16,552 like other
He regretted the club did not change its constitution to
allow members to receive the funds.
Mr van der Bijl declined to speak to the Otago Daily
Times, saying he would need to talk to his lawyer first.