Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The case of the vanishing Crafar rustlers

Remember this story? Under the heading “Heifer heist mystifies Crafar receiver”, the Herald website breathlessly reported on 1 November that rustlers had struck the troubled Crafar farms:
Michael Stiassny is missing a few cows – more than 1000. Stiassny was appointed receiver of the Crafarms group in October after the family-owned company collapsed under heavy debts and multiple prosecutions for effluent discharge.

Until its fall, the Crafar family had run the largest privately owned dairy company in New Zealand, with 20,000 cows spread across 22 properties.

But now some of those cattle have been taken – in possibly the biggest rustling operation this country has seen. Well, the “biggest one that anyone’s ever had proof of”, Stiassny said.
There was no further coverage that I saw in the Herald or on Stuff. The story seemed to vanish, as the cows had. But it turns out that they weren’t rustled at all. Their rightful owners had just retrieved them, as they were apparently entitled to do. Richard Rennie writes in the Farmers Weekly of 9 November:
Stock uplifted from three Crafar farm properties last week were subject to a security claim by Hastings stock leasing company StockCo.

News media reports intimating the 2000 cows had been “rustled” stemmed from claims by receiver Michael Stiassny that the stock movement contravened a court order put in place just prior to the operation.

One thousand cows out of a 1300-head herd were removed from one property, 250 from another 450 cow herd and 300 from a 1000 cow herd. [. . .] Investigation by Farmers Weekly indicated StockCo. has a Personal Money Security Interest (PMSI) registered against the Crafars, registered in April 2007 specifcally against dairy cattle. [. . .] Legally a PMSI gives a creditor priority of claim on a specifc named asset. It puts that creditor ahead of the banks’ claim on general assets. PMSIs are commonly used in trading businesses where assets can be clearly identifed and uplifted from the business premises.

A Hamilton solicitor said that while it was common for small businesses to have PMSIs lodged against their stock items, computer equipment and EFTPOS machines, it did not occur as frequently with dairy farm operations. She was strongly advising clients supplying the sector to consider such security if they were concerned over the business’ status.

“Having the security gives the owner of those assets the right to uplift, as has happened in this case. It is hard to see how the receiver could be surprised at this happening,” she said.
Do have a poke around the Farmers Weekly website, or rather the digital part of it. It’s amazing. You can see the story in question here, and zoom in or out across the page as it suits. You can also download the entire issue as a PDF, or just a double-page spread (which is what I did so I could cut and paste, i.e. steal, the text above).

I don’t know what the future of newspaper or magazine publishing is, but I suspect it looks a bit like this.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Digital publishing like that, delivered to a Kindle, would do it for me.