New Zealand's insolvency practitioner licensing regime came into force on 1 September 2020. Ahead of that date, controversial insolvency practitioner, Damien Grant, applied to join RITANZ, which was a requirement for him to be licensed to continue as an insolvency practitioner, because he was not a chartered accountant. RITANZ considered his application in June 2020 and refused it on good character grounds. RITANZ's decision has not been publicly released, but is understood to be founded on Grant's historical dishonesty convictions.
Grant has sought judicial review of that decision, which is set down for hearing next month.
Grant, who went by the name Damien Grant Mitchell and Damien Mitchell Grant at the time, was convicted of a series of dishonesty offences in 1993/4 for which he received a prison sentence, in connection with a hapless scheme that included an attempt to launder the proceeds of fraud by purchasing gold and shipping it in a boat to Lord Howe Island. The plans unraveled when Customs officials there saw the bullion and discovered that one of Grant's co-conspirators was a fugitive from New Zealand.
Grant then gave evidence at the trial of another co-conspirator, accusing the latter of being the mastermind behind the scheme for which Grant had been convicted. Following conviction of his co-conspirator, Police informed the prosecutors that Grant's evidence was unsafe because he was implicated in a similar allegedly dishonest scheme, but the alleged mastermind was not. All but one of the 11 convictions based on Grant's evidence were set aside by the Court of Appeal. Grant also gave evidence that he had previous convictions and had already spent three months in prison for stealing mail.
A key issue for the High Court will undoubtedly be whether multiple fraud convictions relating to offending 27 years and more before the membership application was rejected provided the RITANZ decision makers with proper grounds to reject that application.