Ebert Construction. - Photo: RNZ
The liquidators of Ebert Construction are taking legal action to claw back a portion of the $7.3 million paid to a company controlled by Ebert's directors while the company was technically insolvent.
Liquidators have lodged a claim in the High Court in Wellington to order the company, Wakefield Plant, to pay back $1.3m, which is an amount they received prior to liquidation but were not entitled to at the time.
Ebert made the $7.3m in payments to cover advances from Wakefield Plant, which has the same board and shareholders as Ebert Construction.
"I do not accept that the respondent received the impugned payment in good faith. The respondent [Wakefield] and the company [Ebert] shared a board of directors," the liquidators, Iain Shephard and Jessica Kellow of BDO, said in an affidavit.
Mr Shephard said the payments to Wakefield superceded the claims of other unsecured creditors, including tradesworkers, who are $109.5m out-of-pocket.
The directors disagreed with the liquidators' view regarding their entitlement because Ebert was not insolvent when those payments were made, he said.
"I doubt that the respondent will be able to show that it did not have reasonable grounds to suspect that the company was, or would become, insolvent."
Mr Shephard has previously said Ebert's directors may have breached their duties.
Ebert was placed in receivership at the request of the BNZ in August, and was liquidated in October.
Creditors are unlikely to be paid back because the company had no money or assets.