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Hidden treasure discovered at bankrupt's house 26 October 2010

The raid was carried out by Kiwi police after UK insolvency practitioner Steven Williams of Begbies Traynor requested that New Zealand courts assist in the investigation and recovery of assets.

This is believed to be the first case of a British IP using new powers to request overseas authorities assist in the seizing of assets in bankruptcy.

Alaint Geraint Simpson, 68 was declared bankrupt by a British court in 2009, and claimed to his trustee, William, that  he was living on £107 a week.

But during the first visit to Simpson’s home, a specialist police team found $1million NZD in gold, silver and foreign currency

A second visit, based on evidence obtained from Simpson’s builder, led investigators to secret compartments cut into the house’s walls and floors – uncovering another $1million NZD in gold and silver.

Finally Simpson surrendered a further $300,000 NZD in silver. Simpson told builders he was preparing for the end of the world as the reasoning behind the construction of secret compartments where he was to keep the buried treasure.

Williams, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “This is entirely new ground we are treading. In what we believe to be the first use of the laws utilised, the Official Assignee in New Zealand has been appointed by the court at our request to assist in seizing assets relating to British bankruptcy. 

“The £1.1m treasure trove found in Mr Simpson’s home paints a different picture entirely to that of a retired psychiatrist living on a modest pension – with income, according to himself, a mere £107 a week.

“At this stage, we are awaiting the court’s decision on whether it will have to adjudicate on who the fortune belongs to but we are confident that old debts will be rightfully settled.”

Simpson incurred the debts which bankrupted him two decades ago when his insurance underwriting syndicate at Lloyd's,  faced with massive bills for settlements in US courts, passed the cost to its underwriters, of which Simpson was one.

In 1998, Simpson was ordered to pay in excess of £200,000 but instead he launched a counter-claim against Lloyd’s for fraud and breach of duty. He lost, and in 2005 Mr Simpson was ordered to pay up. In 2009 Lloyd's bankrupted Simpson and by then he was living in New Zealand. 




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