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Former Horse Trainer Sentenced For Bankruptcy Offending

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024 04:36 PM
A former horse trainer has been sentenced to five months home detention after he was convicted of providing misleading statements and hiding crucial information from the Official Assignee of New Zealand when he applied for self-adjudicated bankruptcy through the Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS), a business unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Mitchell Paul Kerr, a former harness trainer whose licence was cancelled by the Judicial Control Authority for Racing, had concealed crucial details such as his bank accounts for gambling when he filed for bankruptcy with ITS. Between 3 April 2018 and 23 November 2020, Mr Kerr gambled $2.055 million via the online gambling website Ladbrokes using six banks that he did not disclose.
Any person who has been adjudicated bankrupt is not permitted to be involved in the management of a business while still bankrupt unless permission to do so has been sought from the Official Assignee. Likewise, it is also an offence for an individual to contribute to their bankruptcy by gambling.
Fully aware of the obligations and responsibilities he had during his bankruptcy, Mr Kerr became involved in the management of his business, Mitch Kerr Racing, without obtaining approval from either the ITS or the Court.
Also, while still bankrupt, Mr Kerr applied to the Ministry for Social Development between 9 August 2021 and 9 December 2021, declaring himself as ‘Self-employed/Contractor (Sole Trader)’ on his application. As a result, he received COVID-19 wage subsidies amounting to $9,600.
It is also an offence to be self-employed whilst adjudicated bankrupt without the permission of the Official Assignee.
Commenting on the case, acting National Manager - Criminal Proceeds Integrity and Enforcement, Vanessa Cook said:
“Being able to self-initiate the bankruptcy process helps individuals to honestly resolve their financial situations and resume their normal economic lives. This is a fair and effective process that helps to protect the public from financial risk.”
“Mr Kerr wilfully chose to mislead and withhold critical information from the Official Assignee / ITS when he entered bankruptcy. Fully aware that he was prohibited from being involved in managing a business without seeking or obtaining permission from the Official Assignee or the Court, he continued to manage his business -- Mitch Kerr Racing.”
“MBIE’s Integrity and Enforcement team (IET) will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute individuals who attempt to take advantage of the system by misleading and suppressing facts.”
“Mr Kerr’s actions meant that enforcement action had to be taken by MBIE’s IET team in order to protect the public from further financial risk.”Details of the case:
Following investigations by MBIE’s Integrity and Enforcement Team, Mr Kerr was found to have breached the Insolvency Act in the following manner:
Between 3 April 2018 and 23 November 2020: Gambled $2.055 million at online gambling website Ladbrokes. During this period, Mr Kerr paid from six bank accounts that he did not disclose when he applied for self-imposed bankruptcy.
25 March 2021: Applied for self-imposed bankruptcy to MBIE’s Insolvency and Trustee Service.
30 March 2021: Mr Kerr was declared bankrupt, and a letter was sent to him outlining what he could and couldn’t do such as taking part in managing or controlling any business.
Between 20 April 2021 and 14 June 2022: While being bankrupt, Mr Kerr continued to be involved in the management of his business, Mitch Kerr Racing.
Between 9 August 2021 and 9 December 2021: The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) introduced the COVID-19 Wage Subsidies to help businesses pay employees and protect jobs affected by COVID-19 alert level changes. Mr Kerr made eight applications during this period declaring himself as ‘Self-employed/Contractor (Sole Trader) Application’ and received $9,600 from MSD.

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