Mayor facing action over Stonewood Homes collapse

Jim Boult
Jim Boult
Queenstown's mayor is facing legal action over the collapse of building company Stonewood Homes.

Jim Boult says he will "vigorously defend'' any suggestions he did not fulfil his duties as a director of the company.

A statement of claim has been lodged at the High Court in Christchurch against Mr Boult, the Queenstown Lakes District mayor, and Stonewood founder Brent Mettrick.

The plaintiffs are liquidators Rhys Cain and Rees Logan.

The liquidators are seeking millions of dollars from Mr Boult and Mr Metrrick, Stuff reported tonight. It said the papers allege they continued trading while the companies were essentially insolvent.

The High Court hears civil claims that are complex or for more than  $350,000.

The Christchurch-based com pany went into receivership on February 22, 2016, owing unsecured creditors $15 million. It was later placed into liquidation. About 110 home buyers were affected by the collapse. 

Mr Boult joined the Stonewood board in August 2014.

He stepped down from the company on February 1 in 2016, telling media he had done so because he had been part of an attempt to buy Stonewood before receivers were called in and he considered he had a conflict of interest.

Mr Cain confirmed legal proceedings had been lodged in respect to the Stonewood Homes liquidations.

"The matter is now before the Court and as such the liquidators have no further comment to make at this time.''

When contacted today,  Mr Boult said in a statement he rejected the claim made by the liquidators.

He said he was a non-shareholding director of the company for 18 months.

Mr Boult said he became involved with the business to "help the owner address a number of issues facing the company following the Canterbury earthquakes'', and resigned when it became "apparent those issues could not be resolved''.

"I have provided in-depth information to the liquidator that clearly demonstrates I fulfilled my obligations and duties
as a director.

"I am confident any investigation will support this.''

Mr Boult, who is being represented by Auckland QC Alan Galbraith  said he would make no further comment.

A court spokesman confirmed the matter was a civil case initiated by a statement of claim, filed on July 31. He could not provide details of the claim.

There was no date set for the case to be called in court.

The next step was for a statement of defence to be filed by the defendants, which was expected to take about six weeks, he said.

In August 2016, the then-mayoral candidate told the Otago Daily Times his duties as a director were carried out with "care and diligence''.

"I always acted in the best interests of the company to implement a solution that was intended to be beneficial to the creditors and the major shareholder.

"Ultimately the sole shareholder who controlled the company decided the outcome. At that time I had no option but to resign.''

Mr Boult said he was involved in a group that looked at a potential buyout of Stonewood, but that did not eventuate.

Mr Mettrick founded the Stonewood Homes franchise in 1987, and it has  21 franchise locations throughout  the country.

All branches were independently owned, but Stonewood Homes New Zealand,  in Christchurch, was the master franchisor.

Mr Mettrick  declined to comment today.

The contracts of the 110 homebuyers were taken up by, Inno, a company owned by the millionaire property magnate Chow brothers.

It continues to use the Stonewood brand for unaffected franchises. 

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