Head hunters MC Patchholder sues South Waikato council, iwi, over cancelled property deal

Head Hunters MC

A Head Hunters OMC Member could be awarded over $600,000 after taking High Court action against a Waikato council and iwi over a cancelled property deal.

Head Hunters member Ford Benjamin Moeke, who works as a machine operator in Tokoroa, is accusing the South Waikato District Council and Raukawa Iwi Development Limited (RIDL) – the commercial arm of Raukawa – of conspiring to defraud him following an eleventh-hour bid to stop him purchasing a property for apparent club purposes.

It comes after Moeke sought to purchase a large freehold section and buildings owned by RIDL in Tokoroa’s Dumfries Rd in September 2018. Conditions were met and the property went unconditional on Friday, November 9 with settlement set for December 7. 

Legally RIDL were not able to back out of the sale but after learning of Moeke’s club ties, in an eleventh-hour bid the South Waikato District Council stepped in and purchased the property for $230,000 “in the interest of public safety”.

At the time, South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock said there was no way the council was going to let the club take a stronghold in the town and that support for the council’s purchase had been overwhelming.

A member of the Head Hunters is taking the South Waikato District Council and Raukawa Iwi Development Limited to court over the sale of this Dumfries Rd, Tokoroa property.
A member of the Head Hunters is taking the South Waikato District Council and Raukawa Iwi Development Limited to court over the sale of this Dumfries Rd, Tokoroa property.

“It’s heartening because it was a brave decision that council made and I’m really stoked,” she said after the decision.

In documents released to Stuff under the Official Information Act, Moeke refutes claims he was purchasing the land for club purposes saying they were “unfounded rumours”. That’s despite him referring to the property as a spot for new club clubrooms on social media.

He claims the council was aware before settlement of his plans to subdivide the property from which he hoped to make a profit of no less than $450,000.

“I am…aware that my future residential subdivision was discussed with South Waikato District Councillor Thomas Lee and his wife Kayleen who are the direct neighbours of the property. This discussion took place at my mother’s law offices [LMC Law] following the agreement going unconditional,” he said in an affidavit.

“This was a discussion between my mother Maryanne Crapp (who acted for Moeke until November 28) and Thomas and Kayleen as they are longtime friends of my mother’s and they were concerned about the prospect of the property being a club pad. At that meeting they were told that my mother and her partner were funding the purchase of the property because of the potential financial gain we hoped to obtain.

“She reiterated that I was the purchaser and that I could not guarantee what was done with the property however, that Maryanne and her partner would not be funding any club pad.”

Moeke claims that both the council and RIDL knew they were acting to defeat his unregistered interest in the property and therefore conspired to defraud him.

​He’s now requesting the iwi’s sale to the council be voided, an order cancelling the council’s ownership registration, that the property be transferred into his ownership, damages for the delay in obtaining the title, exemplary damages of $150,000, and costs.

Alternatively he’d settle for $450,000, interest, exemplary damages of $150,000, and costs.

While the council, which has declined to comment on the issue, has since on sold the property it can’t as yet be handed over due to Moeke putting a caveat in place.

Documentation shows chief executive Ben Smit has sought to see it overturned.

“For the purpose of this application only, [the] council does not dispute that it is reasonably arguable that [the] council had knowledge of the applicant’s agreement with RIDL. I do however dispute that [the] council acted dishonestly or committed fraud in connection with the purchase of the property,” he said.

The council’s solicitor Megan Crocket claimed there was no conspiracy to defraud Moeke and that under the Land Transfer Act (LTA) 2017 no fraud was committed.

“LTA fraud requires actual fraud, that is personal dishonesty or moral turpitude, rather [than] constructive or equitable fraud. Dishonesty cannot be assumed solely by reason of knowledge of an unregistered interest,” she said.

“The council acquired the land in order to protect the community, specifically to prevent the establishment of a club pad. The council acted in the public interest, not in its own interest.”

RIDL also denies Moeke’s allegations.

The matter will be heard in the Rotorua High Court but a date is yet to be set. 

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Source: Stuff