Former horse trainer sentenced for bankruptcy offending

A former horse trainer has been sentenced to 5 months home detention after he was convicted on 1 charge each of:

  • materially contributing to or increasing the extent of insolvency through gambling
  • managing a business without the consent of the Official Assignee
  • failing to answer questions of the Official Assignee.

Mitchell Paul Kerr, a former harness trainer whose licence was cancelled by the Judicial Control Authority for Racing, had concealed crucial details about bank accounts used for gambling when he filed for bankruptcy with the Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS) in March 2021.

The Official Assignee’s investigations during his bankruptcy identified the bank accounts and revealed that between 3 April 2018 and 23 November 2020, Mr Kerr gambled $2.055 million using the online gambling website Ladbrokes significantly contributing to the extent of his insolvency.

During Mr Kerr’s bankruptcy, he became involved in the management of his business, Mitch Kerr Racing, without obtaining approval from either the ITS or the Court. Any person who has been adjudicated bankrupt cannot be involved in the management of a business while still bankrupt unless permission to do so has been sought from the Official Assignee.

Whilst bankrupt, Mr Kerr applied for the COVID-19 wage subsidy from the Ministry for Social Development between. He declared himself as ‘Self-employed/Contractor (Sole Trader)’ on his application. He received COVID-19 wage subsidies amounting to $9,600.

It is 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.”

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Integrity and Enforcement Team