The low selling price of ANZ's old Hisco St Heliers raises questions



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The revelation that a house owned by ANZ New Zealand was sold to the wife of former chief executive David Hisco for a price less than the market price is raising further questions about the nature of his employment contract and sudden departure.

A Terranet Summary Report shows that a St. Heliers luxury mansion was purchased by ANZ New Zealand's subsidiary company Arawata Assets in 2011 for $ 7.5 million.

Despite the expanding real estate market over the next six years, the property was sold to Hisco's wife, Deborah Veronica Walsh, in July 2017 for only $ 6.9 million.

As of July 1, 2017, the property at 269 St Heliers Bay Rd had an Evaluation Rating of $ 10.75 million, according to Terranet.

Hisco, who earned more than $ 3 million last year, left his job under a cloud related to his expenses – including the use of cars with driver and private wine storage.

Company office records show that Hisco's replacement, current executive Antonia Watson, was director of Arawata Assets at the time of the sale.

Fully owned by ANZ New Zealand, Arawata Assets is used by the bank for real estate transactions. For example, in 2018, he entered into a lease with Kiwi Property for a new office building in Sylvia Park.

An ANZ spokesman said the bank bought the house when Hisco arrived in New Zealand.

"The housing allowance that David Hisco received as part of his expat agreements – which was released annually – was offset by the rent from the market he was obliged to pay ANZ for the house.

"The house was eventually sold by the bank to his wife based on market valuations made at the time."

The ANZ announced on Monday that Hisco would be leaving its $ 3 million plus one year immediately following an investigation that allegedly incorrectly "characterized" certain personal expenses as business expenses.

Expenses amounting to "tens of thousands of dollars" over Hisco's nine-year term as chief executive included the personal use of driver's cars and wine storage in Australia – his home country.

The chairman of ANZ New Zealand, Sir John Key, said Hisco believes it has an agreement with the former chief executive of the Australian bank about the use of cars with driver.

Key said the issue first appeared three months ago after a review of executive expenses was launched at Australia's headquarters.

Hisco stepped down from the role on medical leave in May.

This week, it has also been revealed that the connections between ANZ's former prime minister and chairman Key and ANZ's chief executive David Hisco go beyond his trade link.

Last year, Key sold his seaside holiday home north of Auckland to Hisco.

But Key said the deal was not part of the investigation that later resulted in his leaving.

Property records show 43 Success Court, Omaha was sold by Key and associated with Hisco and mid summer associates in February last year.

Key was not a director at the time of the sale of St. Heliers' house. He joined ANZ New Zealand as president in October 2017.

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