Potential fraud, sadly

The Herald reports:

The executor of ’s will is raising questions after discovering the All Black’s widow made multiple changes to Companies Office documents, inserting herself as a part-owner of a company which owns a Wellington property and his trademarks.

Companies Office records show Nadene Lomu was an “authorised person” but had no stake in the ownership of Stylez Ltd before January 4 this year – almost two months after Lomu died.

But on that date and the day after, the public record shows she made multiple changes to the ownership of the company.

The Companies Office lists “Nadene Quirk” – her maiden name – as inserting “Nadene Lomu” as a 20 per cent shareholder at 1.07pm on January 4.

At 4.12pm, another change was made – this time increasing her shareholding to 98 per cent. Five minutes later, she increased the shareholding again – it was now 99 per cent.

The following day, January 5, a final change to the ownership of the company was made, again by “Nadene Quirk”. It was reduced back to 50 per cent, the records show.

On Wednesday last week, “Nadene Quirk” made a final change to the Companies Office record. On this occasion, she inserted Nadene Lomu as a director in Stylez Ltd.

Previous Companies Office filings have been made for Stylez Ltd by “Nadene Quirk”. She first emerged in 2014, taking over from accountants Grant Thornton. The 2014 annual return lists “Nadene Lomu” as an “authorised person” to submit documents.

I know a bit about this as a company director and shareholder.

The authorised person does not have authority to make changes on their own initiative. Their role is to implement the decisions of the shareholders or directors.

However, the changes to the company records have prompted questions from the executor of Lomu’s will, lawyer Chris Darlow.

Darlow said his role as executor – recently confirmed by the court – meant he acted “as the deceased’s personal representative” and was charged with carrying out the instructions in the will.

Among the instructions will be what happens to Stylez Ltd, which Intellectual Property Office of NZ records show has first rights to trademarks in Lomu’s name.

As Lomu had 100 per cent ownership of the company, its future will be described in the will and for the executor to effect. It also owns a Wellington apartment, which is mortgaged.

It is quite improper and in fact illegal for someone to make changes to the companies office records without authorisation, which has occurred here.

If it eventuates that the instructions in the will are to transfer ownership to Mrs Lomu, then I doubt a prosecution is warranted. But if the instructions are different, then this becomes a matter of fraud.

I hope this is just a case of ignorance of the process to be followed.

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