High-profile insolvency practitioner and Stuff columnist Damien Grant is battling for his career, after having his application for a licence rejected because of 26-year-old fraud convictions.
From September 1, a new regulatory regime means all insolvency practitioners must be licenced by an accredited body.
Those who are not chartered accountants, such as Grant, must apply to the Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association of NZ (RITANZ) to be allowed to continue practising.
But, it is understood, Grant’s application was first rejected in June. He was then granted a review, at which it was rejected again on character grounds, because of his historical convictions.
Grant has credit card convictions from the late 1980s and a fraud conviction from when he was 26 in 1994, for his part in a share-dealing scam. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and served 16.
A requirement of the new licensing regime is that an applicant is a “fit and proper” person.
Grant has operated his business, Waterstone Insolvency, since 2006 but will not be able to continue as an insolvency practitioner without the licence.
The decision by the Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association of NZ appears to be all about stopping competition, not historical convictions.
Grant’s convictions are from 26 years ago. He has done his time. He is very open about his past. I suspect 95% or more of his clients know about them, and they correctly deem it historical. He has been operating for 14 years without issue.
The real issue is that, as I understand it, Waterstone’s charges for their insolvency work are often significantly less than some of the big players, and the licensing regime is really a way to try and get rid of a competitor. They will deny this of course, but I can’t seriously buy that a conviction from 26 years ago makes someone unfit to do insolvency work.
Grant is seeking a judicial review. I hope he wins.