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Erceg conduct 'genuine concern' in ruling

NZN 8/03/2017 Paul McBeth

Former superyacht builder Ivan Erceg's bid to find out how the fortune of his older brother, the late Independent Liquor baron Michael Erceg, was divvied up has been rejected by the Supreme Court, which had "genuine concerns" about what he'd do if he received it.

Ivan Erceg received a $95 million payment from his brother's will, but didn't receive any payments from two trusts - The Acorn Foundation Trust and the Independent Group Trust - which sold shares in Independent Liquor in 2006 and wound up four years later, at which point, Ivan was bankrupt.

Ivan's application for trust documentation was turned down by the trustees citing a confidentiality clause designed to prevent more disharmony where there had already been a history of tension, which he later unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court and later in the Court of Appeal.

His bid went to the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Sian Elias and Justices William Young, Susan Glazebrook, Terrence Arnold, and Mark O'Regan dismissed his appeal, and ordered him to pay $25,000 in costs, plus reasonable disbursements.

At issue was whether Ivan's bankruptcy prevented him from seeking the documents, which the bench agreed it didn't.

However, in weighing up the merits of whether Ivan should be granted access to the documents, the judgement, delivered by Justice O'Regan, said "the conduct of the appellant gives genuine reason for concern as to what he would do with the information if he received it".

The judges broke the various documents down into different categories depending on whether they thought as a discretionary beneficiary Ivan should be granted access.

For those with the strongest case, the judges found "the risk of harassment by the applicant is significant and the benefits of disclosure being made out outweighed by that potential detriment".

Because he couldn't get over that barrier, the judges also rejected his application to the other categories of documents.

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