The Block NZ's builder promises to repay $260K after business failure

Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 17 Nov 2021, 11:43am
Meg Stallard with Dan Leen on the series. (Photo / The Block)
Meg Stallard with Dan Leen on the series. (Photo / The Block)

The Block NZ's builder promises to repay $260K after business failure

Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 17 Nov 2021, 11:43am

A builder on The Block NZ television series has promised to repay creditors of a company that went under nearly half a decade ago. 

Dan Leen, whose new business is Southern Collective, and wife Meg Stallard featured on the television series with the Pt Chevalier townhouses. 

But now Leen says he will use some of his winnings from the television series to partly pay out people who lose money when a building company he was involved in went under. 

Last decade, Leen was one of two directors of building business Collective Construction which he and another put into liquidation. 

When it failed, it had 33 unsecured creditors who claimed more than half a million dollars. 

Waterstone Insolvency said the directors, including Leen, put the company into liquidation in February, 2017, because it couldn't survive financially. 

The business had been registered in 2014 and directors were Glenn James Edwards of Christchurch and Daniel Heward Leen of Lincoln. 

Shareholders were Edwards, Leen and Mark Stuart Tutty of St Albans. 

A partial distribution to a secured creditor was made of $90,000. 

"The business specialised in commercial construction, fitouts and restoration. The liquidators' initial investigations indicate that the company was unable to pay its debts as they fell due," Waterstone's liquidators Damien Grant, Steven Khov and Brenton Hunt said. 

The company had debts of around $650,000 but unsecured creditors owned $526,000 got nothing. 

On the TV3 series The Block NZ, Leen and Stallard got $478,000 after their place was auctioned. 

Leen told the Herald today: "Following the success of the auction and after an in-depth discussion with Meg, I have made the decision to pay my share of the outstanding creditors who were not paid through the liquidation process of Collective Construction. Further to this, I wish to again extend my apologies to all those affected by the liquidation process." 

Half of the money that was not paid to creditors at the time of liquidation will be paid by Leen. 

"There were two liable directors of the company, myself being one of them. That amount is approximately $260,000. I am not legally obliged to make these payments but I want to," Leen said today. 

He complained about publicity on Stuff. 

"Since the story was published, the ambiguity around Meg's involvement has been incredibly hard for us, so it is very important to me to clear Meg's name from this story. She was categorically not involved in Collective Construction in any way. I met Meg six months prior to the business going into voluntary liquidation. I was effectively unemployed and Meg separately decided to start her own small business, using her own money, and employed me. The company has now grown into a team of six people and is successful," Leen explained. 

He said he also wanted address the purchase of the family home in 2018. 

"Using money from the sale of Meg's previous home, we were able to purchase our dream property for considerably less than it's current valuation. It was purchased in Meg's name for lending purposes only due to myself being unable to take on lending as a side effect of the liquidation. Meg and I married the following year in 2019," Leen said. 

He expressed regret about the company failure last decade. 

"I was financially devastated by the liquidation and have tried to get back on with life and be a good corporate citizen, but the last two weeks have been extremely difficult and it has caused a great deal of stress to ourselves and our family. So if you would like to do a story, then getting some clarity around Meg's involvement and our house purchase would mean a great deal to us," he said. 

Brenton Hunt from Insolvency Matters was one of the liquidators who had offered to assist with the process for no fee. 

"If creditors want to contact him he can arrange the paperwork for the payment," he said today. 

Hunt said today: "Creditors already started to contact me. Doing this for $0 as bit worried about Daniel." 

The Herald sought comment from Discovery about Leen, the report on his promise to make a partial repayment and his troubled former business. 

"It's not really to do with us. It's Dan's situation. You can talk to Dan about it," a Discovery spokesperson said this morning. 

Three days ago, The Herald reported Auckland friends Tim Cotton and Arthur (Arty) Gillies have were crowned The Block NZ champions, pocketing a record $760,000 - and the other three teams are also walking away with impressive profits in the red-hot Auckland property market. 

The pair have pocketed a $660,000 profit plus $100,000 in prize money, making them $760,000 richer after their house was sold at auction for $2,825,000. 

The auction - which screened on Sunday night on TV3 - came after a long five months in the real estate industry, and after the show was disrupted by the Covid outbreak. 

When the first episode of this year's The Block NZ aired on June 14, the housing market was still absorbing the reintroduction of the loan to value ratio rules and the Government's tax hit on property investors.