He’s left a path of debtors from three failed concrete corporations, confronted accusations of wage theft from migrant staff and been instructed he can now not direct a company: but that hasn’t stopped Richard Kennaway doing enterprise.
The Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) will examine if the Cambridge businessman is breaching a seven-year ban on running a company after a grievance from a former enterprise affiliate.
Glenn Elliott, director of drainage contractors Clarks Pipes, was shocked to learn Stuff reporting of how Kennaway had allegedly exploited migrant staff. He then found Kennaway was banned from running a company after three of his companies had been liquidated.
But little appears to have modified for Richard Kennaway: he’s still promoting concrete merchandise from the identical manufacturing facility in Pokeno, Waikato.
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Elliott struck a contract with a company referred to as Zeb Ltd in April, a month earlier than Kennaway’s ban. Kennaway did the negotiations and signed the deal, but the company’s sole director is Kristi Solanius, a chiropractor and masseur.
Solanius lives with Kennaway on the identical $1.2m rural way of life block in Cambridge. Companies data say Zeb is buying and selling as “Spanit”, a buying and selling identify utilized by Kennaway in earlier enterprises. Elliott has by no means handled Solanius.
“It’s distressing to learn that someone you trusted and wanted to support in business turns out to be a serial migrant exploiter,” Elliott mentioned. “And then I find out that he is a banned director as well.”
In a telephone dialog between Elliott and Kennaway’s longstanding offsider, manufacturing facility supervisor Beiji ‘Joe’ Zhou, which Stuff has heard, Zhou says: “Richard makes the decisions.”
He talks of Kennaway finishing one main mission and beginning one other. He additionally talks of how Kennaway is the employer of their Chinese labour and is his employer as effectively: “I work for Richard … Richard is the employer of these guys from overseas”.
DAVID WHITE AND JASON DORDAY/STUFF
Chinese migrant development staff inform harrowing tales of being overworked and underpaid.
Elliott additionally supplied a default discover signed by Kennaway on behalf of Zeb from July 14 – two months after his ban started – when the businesses had been in dispute over a contract.
He additionally has a diary notice written by his common supervisor after a assembly with Kennaway and Zhou on July 19. It data how Kennaway upbraided Zhou throughout their assembly over work he thought of substandard, and dealt with negotiations and selections on pricing.
“It was very evident that the whole process there was being run by Richard. He clearly called the shots on manufacturing and sales.”
Kennaway has additionally made part-payment of a settlement agreed with former staff – a deal he and Zhou agreed to be personally answerable for – from a checking account linked to Zeb Ltd.
When Stuff phoned Kennaway and requested if he was appearing as a director of Zeb in breach of his suspension, he mentioned: “No. And I have nothing to say to you.” He then hung up. He declined to reply to a subsequent textual content message detailing the allegations in opposition to him.
In a assertion, Vanessa Cook, MBIE Investigation and Enforcement supervisor, mentioned: ‘’If Mr Kennaway is appearing as a supervisor of Zeb (and endeavor the actions as specified) it’s one thing we might examine.”
Under the Companies Act, anybody discovered responsible of appearing as a director when banned is liable to a penalty of as much as 5 years’ imprisonment and a advantageous of $200,000. The discover banning Kennaway mentioned it included “being a director or promoter of, or being concerned in or taking part, whether directly or indirectly, in the management of any company”.
Cook mentioned Kennaway was banned as a result of the Registrar was glad he took half within the administration of two failed corporations inside 5 years and “their mismanagement was wholly or partly responsible for the failure of those companies”. Those failures had been Precast Ltd and Superspan Ltd.
Company data present a path of destruction behind Kennaway.
The first domino to tumble was Precast Ltd, liquidated on August 31, 2020. Liquidators’ studies checklist claims of $1.702m from 16 unsecured collectors, $64,390 from Inland Revenue as preferential collectors, and one secured creditor owed $52,067.
The liquidators’ report mentioned Kennaway had been uncooperative, and a collectors’ committee had met and raised issues at his “reckless” running of the company, but whereas the liquidator needed to discover litigation in opposition to him, the collectors had been unwilling to fund it.
Superspan Ltd was liquidated on September 14, 2020. Liquidators’ studies from the Official Assignee, Tony Lowe, say Kennaway had promised to make a suggestion to settle money owed, but none was forthcoming and Kennaway had been issued a summons for an interview. Lowe’s report mentioned the liquidator was assessing if he had breached administrators’ responsibility and whether or not to pursue authorized motion and had referred him to the Companies Office Integrity and Enforcement crew. Reports recorded unsecured collectors owed $202,716 and IRD owed $279,442.
Cook mentioned the Official Assignee was “still assessing the merits of different causes of action to pursue Mr Kennaway personally to recover money owed to creditors”.
Alan Spilhaus, common supervisor of haulage company Tom Ryan Cartage, initiated the liquidation over a debt of $7,759.63, of which some was paid after he served a statutory demand. He mentioned it was the primary time he’d taken such motion in a 43-year profession.
“Seven grand is not a lot, but it is the principle of the matter,” he mentioned. “I’ve had a other creditors contact us to say … they had the same kind of problems.”
He mentioned Kennaway had failed to speak and entrance up over the debt.
“Any business can fall on to hard times, but it is how we deal with those challenges … if you keep trucking, and borrowing from Peter and Paul…”
Asked what he would assume if Kennaway was once more working below one other identify, he mentioned: “There are some operators who play by the ethical rules a little bit more loosely.”
Most lately, Portalspan Buildings was liquidated by collectors on October 19, 2022, owing IRD $183,376 and associated events some $328,285 (Precast and Superspan). It recorded as an asset what seems to be an inter-company mortgage: “Zeb Ltd, $134,495.”
Stuff has beforehand reported on allegations of migrant exploitation in Kennaway’s companies.
In 2021, a employee named ‘Yu’ spoke anonymously but was recognised by his employer, summoned to a assembly the place he was criticised for talking out, then later sacked.
An overstayer, Yu had labored as much as 120 hours a week for $20 an hour money and was owed again wages and vacation pay. He believes he was owed at the least $4,000 but most certainly extra. Yu had by no means seen any tax statements.
Yu was initially employed by Precast, then after its liquidation was paid by a new company, Concrete Ltd, but mentioned he had the identical position and duties in the identical manufacturing facility. Concrete Ltd, solely owned by Kennaway, was listed as a company from September 2020 to March 2021 when it was eliminated after Kennaway said it had by no means operated.
Last yr, Kennaway instructed Stuff that Yu was dismissed as a result of he had no visa and “wasn’t working well” but couldn’t reply why it took him two years to understand Yu was an unlawful employee. He mentioned Yu’s lengthy hours had been “none of your business”.
Kennaway additionally confronted Employment Relations Authority motion from 4 former Chinese staff who claimed they had been owed $40,000 in unpaid wages.
All had additionally complained to the Labour Inspectorate, who closed an investigation into the company regardless of discovering a number of breaches of record-keeping legal guidelines.
Kennaway and Zhou agreed a settlement with the boys, but it’s understood they haven’t maintained their funds. Those funds they did make got here from an account named ‘Zen Ltd’ (no such company exists) with a reference of ‘“Zeb Ltd laboursettle”.
The men’s advocate, May Moncur, is now pursuing a compliance order and a $20,000 penalty on the Employment Relations Authority.
One of the 4, Gao Litong, earlier instructed Stuff he would work as much as 120 hours a week. “Those times were the worst,” he mentioned. Litong was paid each earlier than and after Precast’s liquidation from an account named ‘PRECAST BUIL’ and mentioned his work didn’t change after the liquidation.
“The failure to comply with the settlement agreement is extremely upsetting and frustrating,” Moncur mentioned.
“We are disappointed by their failure to comply with the agreement. It’s already been more than three and a half years [since the case began] and it has caused extreme and unnecessary stress and harm on these migrant workers and made their experience in New Zealand continue to be negative.”
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