Ex-real estate king fails to return

Gurpreet Grewal appears to have fled the country after his business went bust last year. Criminal charges also hang over him.

A former real estate golden boy who had 10 branches and who last year saw his empire crumble has apparently fled to India.

Gurpreet Grewal, whose company Preet & Co went into liquidation last year owing $14 million, faces criminal charges and has failed to return to New Zealand after a High Court judge allowed him to travel to India to raise funds to pay his debts, according to the Sunday Star Times.

The Howick and Pakuranga Times reported on April 19 last year that Preet & Co Real Estate (PEL) and Preet & Co Rentals (PRL) had gone into liquidation owing creditors at least $14m.

PEL held the franchise rights for the Harcourts’ brand for south and east Auckland for the sales arm of the business. It had 10 branches with offices in Botany, Ellerslie, Otahuhu, Howick, Manukau (two sites), Pakuranga, Papatoetoe, Meadowlands and Manurewa.

Administrators — and now liquidators — Meltzer Mason were called in on November 22.

A Meltzer Mason report to creditors said anomalies were discovered in the trust accounts of the Preet companies around August/September and were being investigated by the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA).

For about a month prior to the appointment of Meltzer Mason, the administrators had some involvement while Mr Grewal worked with Harcourts and a secured creditor to see if a plan could achieve full repayment of all creditors. Ultimately, this did not occur and the administrators were brought in.

Mr Grewal tried to keep a lid on things assuring the administrators he was committed to paying all creditors, adding that once the appointment of Meltzer Mason became public, the business would be “rendered useless”, the report said.

The administrators say Preet & Co had traded relatively well but had expanded quickly. There was significant secured debt and the companies had significant funding requirements but were unable to secure financing “In the administrators’ assessment, the rapid expansion, coupled with potentially overvalued acquisitions and the high level of borrowing, led to working capital deficiencies,” the report said.

As at the date of appointment of Meltzer Mason, there were two secured creditors — Bank of New Zealand (first ranking) owed $10.179m and Harcourts Group (second ranking) for $1.2m.

Unsecured creditors are the Inland Revenue ($2.262m), known trade creditors – Preet & Co Real Estate ($859,749) and known creditors – Preet & Co Rentals ($20,817) for a total of $14,521,951 as at November 22, 2017.

The Sunday Star Times (SST) piece at the weekend said Grewal, 36, is facing charges in the district court relating to his business. The article said is also facing four charges of theft by a person in a special relationship relating to the trust account transactions.

The SST reported that Grewal in February, while awaiting trial, applied unsuccessfully to the Papakura District Court to have his bail conditions amended so he could travel to India. However in March he successfully appealed a decision in the High Court and was permitted to leave NZ if he paid a surety of $10,000 to the court and return within two weeks, the SST said.

“However, two months on from the arrangement being made, Grewal has not returned from India and his wife and children have also left the country,” SST reported.

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