Not surprised

Hamish McNeilly at the ODT reports:

Former Dunedin mayoral aspirant Olivier Lequeux was surprised to learn he had been declared bankrupt yesterday.

“I am not aware of that. Really?” the 45-year-old told the Otago Daily Times last night.

When told he was declared bankrupt in the High Court at Dunedin yesterday over an unpaid debt to Wests NZ Ltd, Mr Lequeux said he was “quite shocked”.

“What do I do, bankrupt? I should tell my lawyer.”

He acknowledged he had a disagreement with the company’s owner, and “he did it because I could not be bothered; I am probably an arrogant Frenchman”. …

The French-born New Zealander said despite the latest setback he remained committed to his adopted city, where he ran for mayor in 2007 and 2010.

A creditor, who declined to be named, said his business had been paid only a deposit by Mr Lequeux and had spent a year trying to get payment for an undisclosed debt.

“He didn’t want to pay, so this is the conclusion.”

I can’t say I am surprised as Me Lequeux is, to date, the only bad debt Curia has had to write off. I did polling for him for his 2007 Mayoral bid (which was published in the ODT and was very close to the actual result) and despite numerous requests over 24 months, he never paid his bill. I eventually wrote the debt off.

My policy now is to do what Wests have just done, and apply to court for a liquidation or bankruptcy order for bad debts. There has only been one other bad debt in eight and a half years of trading. Note these are not debts that are disputed in any way. In neither case was there any dissatisfaction at all. They just kept saying they would pay – and simply never did.

Lequeux is, or was, a Labour Party member who stood for the Dunedin South nomination in 2008. I joked at the time I wrote his debt off that I’ll never take a Labour party member as a client again 🙂

I was kidding. Curia has and does polling for people across the political spectrum – subject to conflict of interest ethics. You can’t work for direct competitors so if for example you poll for a political party at a national level, you couldn’t do work for another political party at that level. But at local body level, you are only conflicted if people are standing in the same race – so I’ve polled for candidates who are Labour Party members, Alliance members, National members and of course those not members of a political party at all.

I’m a bit sad for Olivier. A warm guy, who is passionate about Dunedin. Never nice to see anyone bankrupted. But paying your bills should not be seen as an optional activity.