Farmer facing $1.5m claim amid station sale stoush says he is not losing sleep

An Auckland company is suing an 83-year-old for $1.5million in default interest over the blocked purchase of his farm near Glenorchy.

In March last year, The Station at Waitiri Ltd committed to buy Jim Veint’s Arcadia Station at Paradise — renowned as the setting for films such as
the Lord of the Rings triology — for $14 million.

The company paid a $1,325,485 deposit and, three months later, $737,000 to buy the stock, plant and machinery.

However, it had not been able to settle on the balance as Mr Veint was still to remove a caveat on the title, as was allegedly required of him in the sales and purchase agreement.

The caveat, over about half the 257ha farm, is held by a New Zealand expat, Dr David Teece, which the latter put on the property when buying another block from Mr Veint in 1997.

Last November, Mr Veint applied to the registrar-general of land to "lapse the caveat", however that application was dismissed in a court judgement.

To allow him to get his property in order, The Station at Waitiri deferred settlement, three times, from July 1 last year until December 3.

The company had now lodged a statement of claim in the High Court at Invercargill, ordering Mr Veint pay deferred interest of $1,570,470.84, accumulated from December 3 last year to November 9 this year.

It was also ordering Mr Veint pay default interest, at the rate of $4592 a day, from that last date "until settlement".

The statement of claim alleges The Station at Waitiri was also prepared to settle the Arcadia titles that are not affected by the caveat, on condition the caveat was removed, however it said that offer was not accepted.

It also said The Station at Waitiri "has at all times been ready, able and willing to settle the purchase of Arcadia".

Asked to comment on the statement of claim, a company spokesman said it "remains committed to the purchase of Arcadia, and wants the sale to be completed as soon as possible".

Despite facing a very sizeable default interest claim, Mr Veint — who still managed the farm — said, "at this stage, all the facts are on my side, really, I think, so I’m relaxed and comfortable".

"I don’t lose any sleep over it.

"I’ve been told [The Station at Waitiri’s default interest claim] is not enforceable."

Asked how he felt about the issue dragging on, Mr Veint said "it’s a bit ridiculous".

"My concentration is to get rid of that caveat, and I think we’ve got very good legal [grounds]."

He also pointed out the money paid for his stock, plant and machinery was held in his lawyer’s trust account.




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