A finance firm will have to take Terry Serepisos’ mother to trial if it is to recover almost $250,000 owed to it, after a judge found it may have failed to get the best price when selling her apartment to repay her loan.
A recently released court judgment suggests the case to recover the money will hinge on allegations — which have not been tested in court — from the former Apprentice New Zealand host that real estate agent Paula Muollo claimed she could not show a potential buyer through the property as she did not have the keys.
Serepisos argues Muollo, his former property manager, did not pursue a potential buyer for his mother’s Tory St property, instead accepting a lower offer from someone with which he claims she had a “close personal friendship”. She denies this.
General Finance went to the High Court in March seeking summary judgement to recover $295,000 from Alliki Serepisos over an unpaid loan secured by mortgage it previously held over a penthouse apartment she owned, which Terry Serepisos had been living in.
* Terry Serepisos’ mum Alliki Serepisos being chased for debts to finance company
* Estate agent’s bid to bankrupt Wellington lawyer over Italian tiles fails
* Estate agent chases lawyer over $540k tiles given to her by Terry Serepisos
* Terry Serepisos’ mother sells Miramar building, home to The Larder, for $1.1m
* Serepisos relative happy with mortgages
Alliki Serepisos opposed the application, arguing General Finance had breached its obligation to get the best price for her apartment. She also said the firm was guilty of delaying the sale.
However, Muollo argued “price-wise, we achieved a great price considering the defects for that maison penthouse”.
Associate Judge Warwick Smith ordered Alliki to pay General Finance $50,000, a figure he said she would probably be liable for, even if her arguments were successful.
But Associate Judge Smith ruled the finance company would have to go to trial to recover the rest, as although the allegations were untested and he was making no finding, he agreed Alliki Serepisos had a case to argue.
He noted that General Finance seemed to have chosen not to respond to the allegations “which appeared to call for some response”.
General Finance appointed Muollo — a former runner up in the Miss New Zealand pageant — to sell the leaky Wellington apartment in 2014.
The process took 18 months before the apartment eventually sold for $580,000.
According to Terry Serepisos, when the $580,000 offer was on the table, he had met with a Mr Chin, who had discussed offering up to $800,000. But Chin wanted to view the apartment.
Terry Serepisos claims Muollo told them she did not have keys to the apartment as the company had changed the locks, however General Finance insisted she had the new set of keys.
Serepisos believed General Finance “sabotaged” the Chin offer, but the firm argued Chin had not made a formal offer, he only expressed interest.
The finance firm has no record of Chin attempting to contact anyone at the firm.
In emails to Stuff, Muollo said that accusations surrounding the sale of the penthouse were “completely unfounded”.
“The property was fully available to any purchaser who wished to submit an offer during what was a lengthy campaign and I never sighted any offer from a Mr Chin nor did the mortgagee receive any offer from him direct.”
However Muollo did not say whether she was unable to show the apartment to potential buyers because she did not have access to the keys.
Asked of her knowledge of Chin’s interest, or the suggestion he was likely to submit a bid but needed to view the apartment, Muollo said simply that Chin had not contacted her directly or submitted an offer.
The suggestion the buyer was anything more than a business acquaintance was “completely absurd”, Muollo said.
Terry Serepisos, the former Wellington Phoenix owner and property developer, was declared bankrupt in 2011. He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2014.