A three-time bankrupt property developer jailed for contributing to his own insolvency by "extravagant living" is back in business with customers claiming he has taken their money and ruined their homes.
Graeme Brent Raymond, 56, was sentenced to 13 months in 2001. The judge in the case said Raymond had put almost $30m across the tables at casinos and enjoyed "riotous living at the upper end of the scale".
Judge Graham Hubble also described Raymond as "commercially hazardous" and added a six-month sentence for concealing property under the Insolvency Act.
At the time of sentencing Raymond's company, First Investments Ltd, owed finance company National Mutual $8.6m and tradesmen and suppliers at his half-built hotel at least $2.6m.
A Weekend Herald investigation has found Raymond is now director of Pacific Decontamination Services (PDS). In the past year the specialist asbestos removal company has had 11 health and safety breaches and initially had its asbestos removal licence cancelled by WorkSafe NZ.
A derelict half-completed building in Auckland's Hobson Street was being developed by Graeme Raymond before he was sentenced to jail. Photo / Paul Estcourt
A new licence has since been issued with strict conditions.
The Weekend Herald has spoken to property owners, tradesmen and former staff who claim Raymond's work caused damage to their properties, led to safety concerns and has cost them thousands.
But Raymond denies any wrongdoing and claims he is owed money by his clients.
Property owners in Otahuhu, Beach Haven, Castor Bay and Pukekohe claim, after paying a 50 per cent deposit, their homes were left for months with only poorly fitting tarpaulins to protect from heavy rain.
In one case it is claimed work done by PDS lead to asbestos contamination throughout the house which saw the family forced to find other temporary accommodation.
Each property had repair bills of up to $160,000 and photos and paperwork appears to show those re-roofed by PDS were constructed so poorly they had to be removed.
Those properties were re-roofed by a different roofing company.
Stewart Thompson said Pacific Decontamination Services caused $100,000 worth of damage to his property which had to be repaired by another company. Photo / Greg Bowker
Property owners say while their homes were flooding Raymond was on overseas holidays.
Otahuhu man Stewart Thompson contracted PDS to remove the asbestos roof at his elderly uncle's Hutton Street home in June last year.
"It was a straightforward job and we were told it would be done in a week," Thompson said.
He paid more than half of the $85,000 invoice to kick-start work.
In August 2017 the roof was removed and tarpaulins were erected. Work stopped and the heavy rain hit Auckland.
"The tarps were put on completely incorrectly so ended up diverting heavy rain into the property rather than away from it," Thompson claimed.
"Some parts were completely uncovered and some had pink-bat bags stapled with just a household stapler."
Desperate calls, emails and texts to Raymond went unanswered. Thompson was told Raymond was on holiday in South Africa.
Water damage to the roof cavity at Stewart Thompson's Otahuhu property. Photo / Supplied
The ceiling completely collapsed under the weight of the water. More than $100,000 of damage was done to the property.
Thompson claimed that PDS often told him it was not being paid because he hadn't paid his deposit.
"We paid a deposit of $50,800 and as soon as he got the money that was the last we saw of him."
The roof that was eventually installed was below standard according to the company which repaired it.
"The workmanship to be well below industry standard ... which would have caused serious leaks in the future," said James Johnson at Johnson Roofing.
"The only way to bring the roof up to a decent standard was to replace all the incorrect flashings and sheets with new ones. There was no way to remedy the existing work without new materials."
Families in Castor Bay and Beach Haven also claim PDS caused thousands of dollars of water damage to their homes.
In Beach Haven Malcolm and Johanna were invoiced for close to $80,000 to have their asbestos roof removed.
They paid half and were told the job would take 10 days.
Roofing at the Otahuhu property was described as not being of industry standard. Photo / Supplied
"It went over six months. They left it exposed, it is still a disaster now," they claimed.
A year later they still have no lighting in the area and rely on lamps at night.
In Castor Bay another family spoken to by the Weekend Herald contracted PDS to remove their degrading asbestos roof and replace it with a new iron roof in April 2017.
The couple claimed water poured into their home through tarpaulins that were too small. They were told Raymond was away in Dubai so couldn't take their calls.
Paperwork obtained by the Weekend Herald under the Official Information Act shows WorkSafe cancelled Raymond's Class A Asbestos Removal Licence on March 12 this year.
WorkSafe found Raymond's company had breached Health and Safety regulations 11 times from March 2017 to April 2018, including five cases of potentially exposing people to asbestos fibres.
On March 28 PDS was granted a new licence under strict conditions.
On May 7 Inland Revenue applied to the High Court to liquidate Pacific Decontamination Services Ltd. The application was dropped in June. A spokesperson for IRD said they could not comment.
According to the Companies Office Raymond is also the director of several other companies including Pacific Roofing Solutions, Green Pacific Bins and Milford Cladding Systems.
Malcolm and Johanna said Pacific Decontamination Services Ltd left their home partially covered in a storm leading to severe leaks. Photo / Greg Bowker
When approached by the Weekend Herald Raymond said he couldn't meet as he was going overseas.
During a phone conversation he said he was the one owed money by the property owners spoken to by the Weekend Herald.
"That is absolute rubbish — those people owe us," he said. "They have only paid half of the original amount."
He said he was about to take the owner of the Otahuhu property to court.
Raymond also denied his licence had been cancelled, adding any breaches were not serious compared to other companies.
"We've had some issues on some jobs. We do an awful lot of jobs — about 10 or 20 a month."
Asked about the claims of $100,000 of damage to the Hutton St property Raymond said he wasn't aware of it.
He said his past business history and numerous bankruptcies had no bearing on his current business.
"That was 20 years ago. I don't have extravagant living now, I work very hard."
'A series of disasters'
Sharon and John Bailey contracted PDS to remove an asbestos roof at their Pukekohe lifestyle block last May.
Work allegedly started three months late and Bailey said it was "a series of disasters".
When the PDS workers ran out of tarpaulins the Baileys said they used rubbish bags to cover holes.
When the roof was removed dangerous asbestos fibres and debris fell into the house, they claimed.
John, Sharon and Jordan Bailey outside their Pukekohe home which they claim was contaminated with asbestos after Pacific Decontamination Services removed the roof. Photo / Jason Oxenham
"Graeme told us we could return to the house each night because there would be a through clean-up before workers left for the day," Sharon Bailey said.
"When we returned home there was dust everywhere, on the furniture, through our clothes and belongings."
Bailey said Raymond "returned from holiday in Ghana" to deal with the problems.
In September Sharon Bailey called WorkSafe raising a number of issues including the possibility of asbestos contamination.
They also reported inexperienced staff working at height and contractors up ladders working "in jandals or gumboots".
On son Jordan's 21st birthday the asbestos tests came back positive and they had to move out immediately.
PDS were ordered not to return to the house and another company was contracted to decontaminate the property. Another was paid to re-roof.
"It has cost $160,000 so far and is still going. Nothing is covered by insurance because it's contamination."
Raymond said he had dealt with a supervisor on the Jutland Rd property who had let workers on the roof without safety gear.
"That man no longer works for us, there was an issue on that job. I had to let him go because he didn't comply."
Any asbestos contamination at the Jutland Rd property was already there he said.
"That roof leaked before we went in there and the carpets were already contaminated," he said.
"Sometimes it does happen because we are putting tarps on. In that particular case the lounge had already been leaking."