Prominent Kiwi businessman Sir Owen Glenn claiming victory in multi-million dollar legal dispute with Eric Watson

Prominent Kiwi Businessman Sir Owen Glenn is claiming victory after a long-running legal dispute with fellow rich-lister and former business partner Eric Watson.

A 376-page judgement out today follows one of the most complex and high-stakes business cases ever seen between two New Zealanders, involving nearly a million documents and a 12-week trial in the Chancery Division of the London High Court last year.

The case dates back to 2014, when a high court document out of the British Virgin Islands revealed Sir Owen and Mr Watson had gone into a joint European property venture called Spartan Capital.

Today's ruling said Sir Owen had put a total of £129 million (around $250m) – in three installments - into Project Spartan via a company known as Kea Investments Ltd.

He then felt his arrangement with Mr Watson, who was claiming a 50-50 shareholding on that capital, was unfair.

Mr Justice Nugee found that Mr Watson had secured Sir Owen's initial investment by fraudulent misrepresentation, describing it as "a deceit planned and orchestrated by Mr Watson". 

The judge also questioned Mr Watson's credibility during some evidence saying: "I had the distinct impression when he was giving that evidence that he was not misremembering, but was deliberately covering up the truth".

WATSON APPEALING

In a statement to 1 NEWS this morning, Mr Watson said he has already instructed his legal team to file an urgent appeal – saying the fight “is by no means over”.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

“Whilst I respect the judge’s conclusions, my new legal team and I do not agree with them all. We are pleased we won a portion of the case, but it’s fair to say overall I am disappointed. I have asked my legal team to file an urgent appeal covering the areas of disagreement,” he said.

“It is however, unfortunate and regrettable but worth noting, that what I recognised to be a highly valuable business opportunity, and which proved to generate significant returns for its shareholders, in a very short space of time, has come before the courts. The economic potential of the venture and the social benefit it offered, in particular, was immense and sadly this has been lost.

“This is by no means over and I look forward to success in the course of time.”

'COMPLETE VINDICATION'

Sir Owen has already been awarded a $220 million (NZD) settlement from his High Court war with Mr Watson, however Sir Owen says this has not fully been paid yet.

The 78-year-old, who is battling cancer said: "I regard this judgment as a complete vindication of my position in this complex and long-running litigation. Eric Watson has behaved appallingly. I saw him as a close friend but he was trying to rip me off. Once I knew what had happened I was determined to get justice."

Sir Owen's company Kea Investments says it has recovered a large part of the money it invested in Project Spartan and the court has indicated that further sums are recoverable by way of compensation from Mr Watson.

The court will deal with that next month.

A British judge said Watson secured millions of dollars from Sir Owen by fraudulent misrepresentation. Source: 1 NEWS



Police admit communication could have been better over opposition to Wellington bowling club liquor licences

Police met with bowling club members last night in Lower Hutt to explain why they objected to a number of clubs' liquor licence renewal applications.

District Licensing Committees are in charge of granting applications for liquor licences but police are one of a number of groups that can support or oppose applications during a prior 15-day period.

Wellington Police acting district commander Inspector Sean Hansen said police's initial communication to the seven clubs which had their applications opposed could have been more clear.

"What I acknowledge is that we could have and should have communicated better with some of the clubs over the past couple of weeks with regard to our position and the way it's played out is somewhat regrettable," he told about sixty members.

Fourteen clubs reapplied for renewals, of which seven were unopposed, and of the seven opposed clubs, three have since made changes to have their oppositions dropped, three are in "positive talks" with police and one remains opposed, he said.

Inspector Hansen stressed that police are not opposed to clubs serving and selling alcohol, but are wanting clubs to employ duty managers if alcohol consumption is going to continue past 9pm to ensure "the sale, supply and consumption of liquor is done safely and responsibly."

He said there was a meeting with the regional medical officer of health, licensing inspectors and police earlier this month where it arose that instead of continuing to roll over club licences, applications need to be reviewed to ensure clubs are adhering to their core function and making sure that's in line with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.

"Each application is treated on its own merit. We don't have a blanket policy," he said.

Several club members asked questioned at the meeting, one saying "this seems like a sudden change" and another questioning why police are suggesting duty managers when that is not a requirement in the Act.

Senior Sergeant Scott Dunn of the Wellington Police alcohol harm reduction team said another issue is club members attending other clubs and consuming alcohol when a reciprocal arrangement is not stated in the club's liquor licence or by the sport's overall governing body.

"Unless it's written into your club constitutional rules or it's a stipulation of your licence then technically that doesn't exist," he said.

He said without this agreement, external members would have to be a 'guest' of the member of the club. He said the issue is when a partner of the visiting member also comes.

A number of objections were lodged by Wellington police in line with their objective of reducing alcohol harm. Source: 1 NEWS

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Jury picked for trial of ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort

A jury set to decide the fate of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was selected today, and opening statements in his tax evasion and bank fraud trial were expected in the afternoon.

It's the first trial arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

Four alternate jurors were selected in addition to the panel of six men and six women.

While prosecutors weren't expected to address the question of possible collusion between Trump and Russia, Manafort's case was widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller's ongoing probe, which Trump has dismissed as a "witch hunt."

"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!" Trump tweeted today.

Manafort, who is already in custody and could spend the rest of his life in jail, appeared in the federal courtroom in Alexandria, in a dark suit with his wife, Kathleen.

He is accused of trying to hide tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting fees and using that money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

He is the only American charged by Mueller to opt for a trial.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence they say will show how Manafort earned more than $60 million from his Ukrainian work and then concealed a "significant percentage" of that money from the IRS.

Prosecutors will also argue that Manafort fraudulently obtained millions more in bank loans, including during his time on the campaign.

The pool of jurors faced questions from both sides and US District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they tried to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.

Prosecutors say they will introduce evidence that a chairman of one of the banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate loan information in exchange for a role on the Republican campaign and the promise of a job in the Trump administration that never materialized.

Before the start of jury selection today, prosecutors filed an expanded list of its evidence exhibits, including several email chains between Manafort and Stephen Calk, the Chicago bank chairman.

The added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus.

At the center of much of the trial will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans.

Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is expected to testify against his former mentor.

Gates is also expected to play a key role in Manafort's second trial, scheduled for September.

That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the US government.

The other 31 people charged by Mueller so far have either pleaded guilty or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom.

Three Russian companies have also been charged.

One of those companies has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the allegations in federal court in Washington.

FILE - In this March 8, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort, left, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, walks with this wife Kathleen Manafort, as they arrive at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va. Jury selection is set to begin in the trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
In this March 8, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort, left, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, walks with this wife Kathleen Manafort, as they arrive at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va. Jury selection is set to begin in the trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. Source: Associated Press