Bankrupt real estate agent caught continuing dishonest dealings

A former Christchurch real estate agent has pleaded guilty to 12 charges under the Insolvency Act, including managing a business while bankrupt, concealing property and obtaining credit without the consent of the Official Assignee.

Mr Chairat Santipongchai, who changed his name via deed poll to Henry Harrison, was declared bankrupt in August 2013 owing creditors more than $750,000.

In breach of the restrictions that apply during bankruptcy, Mr Santipongchai established housing construction company MD Global Developments Limited, appointed his son as director and sourced credit from an associate who was unaware of his bankrupt status.

"Mr Santipongchai deceptively entered into contracts with suppliers and contractors, and resorted to sourcing various lines of credit from financial institutions for his personal benefit when MD Global Developments Limited began defaulting on its financial responsibilities," says Official Assignee (OA) Ross van der Schyff.

"The complicated and extensive web of his offending entangled many innocent parties, going against the provisions put in place to protect Kiwis from unscrupulous dealings."

Owing more than $150,000 when his deliberate offending was uncovered, Mr Santipongchai also actively sought to conceal the little profit that the company had made from the OA. 

Mr Santipongchai has been sentenced to 12 months home detention, coupled with 200 hours of community work. These convictions also mean he is prohibited from being a director or promoter of a company, or taking part in the management of a company, unless he obtains the leave of the Court, for a further five years under the Companies Act.

"The bankruptcy process is designed to give people a fresh start, which is crucial to counteracting the significant impact of unmanageable debt on people both socially and economically. It helps people who are trapped by debt move forward, bringing a sense of certainty to their lives, while also ensuring the orderly distribution of assets to creditors," says Mr van der Schyff.

"Mr Santipongchai was well aware of his obligations as a bankrupt, and despite this he continued in his business venture knowing he was not in a position to repay any money borrowed. The severity of his sentence is a strong acknowledgement that this sort of deception carried out by a bankrupt person will not be tolerated."