A married couple have moved to Vanuatu after leaving behind a
string of collapsed businesses which owe nearly $2.5 million
to the New Zealand taxman.
Ross Harold Fitches and Christine Angela Fitches have been
banned from running businesses in New Zealand after five
companies they were directors of went into liquidation.
One example of poor management was the withdrawal of $200,000
from a company account treated as a "personal cashbox", says
the prohibition report.
The five businesses run by the Fitches, which included a
motel and a bowling alley, also owed $2.5 million in unpaid
The Taupo couple were among 27 people banned last year from
running a company, according to the Ministry of Business,
Innovation and Employment.
Someone can be banned as a director for up to five years if
two or more firms they run are put into liquidation.
To avoid being struck off, a director has to prove his or her
alleged mismanagement was not to blame for the insolvency.
Mr Fitches was banned for four years and nine months after
five companies went into liquidation. Mrs Fitches, a director
of two of those companies, was banned for four years and
Documents released to the Herald under the Official
Information Act reveal the couple, who are also bankrupts,
left New Zealand before they were banned.
The last point of contact they gave the former Ministry of
Economic Development was a postal address in Port Vila,
The couple said the global financial crisis was to blame for
the insolvency of Lakeland Enterprises, Revenire, Rochis,
Twin Peaks Enterprises and Wyndham Street Properties.
But the mismanagement by Mr and Mrs Fitches was "serious and
fundamental", according to the report of Peter Barker, deputy
registrar of companies.
This included their failure to:
* Understand their obligations to preferred creditors such as
* Maintain sufficient financial records.
* Understand legal obligations for each company.
* Act in the best interests of the company.
In respect of Rochis, Mr Barker said that the liquidators had
discovered that the current account was overdrawn by
"I consider that directors using creditors' money for their
own purposes is mismanagement and is not in the best
interests of the company.
"I consider that there may be other directors who choose not
to recognise that each company is separate from the other and
that a company is separate from its directors and
"Such people have a propensity to treat each company as their
personal cashbox, as occurred with Rochis."
Mr Barker said Rochis owed $2.2 million to the IRD and
Lakeland Enterprises a further $275,000.
He said he would ban the Fitches as directors to protect the
"My original view was that if I had the ability to impose a
period greater than five years, I would have done so."
- Jared Savage of the New Zealand Herald