Companies face liquidation
A former bankrupt turned Dunedin bar owner and Greymouth developer is facing the liquidation of several hospitality companies.
Benjamin Hanssen was to have developed the Railway and Royal hotels in Greymouth by Labour Weekend.
He is recorded as a director of Dunedin’s 2 Mooses Tavern Ltd and a director and shareholder of The Church Nightclub Ltd.
Inland Revenue confirmed civil proceedings had been filed against both Dunedin companies, but declined to release details of the cases, citing confidentiality.
Dunedin police have confirmed matters relating to Mr Hanssen “are with the CIB for investigation’’.
Mr Hanssen, and his partner Kerry Thompson, have business interests in Dunedin bars Metro, Monkey Bar, Diamond Lounge/Rumours and the Clarendon Hotel.
The liquidation proceedings against the two companies are believed to involve the Diamond Lounge and the Monkey Bar.
The Moray Place-based Diamond Lounge used to trade as the 2 Mooses Tavern before it was converted into an adult entertainment venue, and includes a bar called Rumours.
Rumours has not traded for months, while Diamond Lounge has been shut for several weeks, as has the student-oriented nightclub Monkey Bar.
A staff member said that several employees from one of the businesses had not been paid for several weeks by another company operated by Mr Hanssen.
The Otago Daily Times understands Mr Hanssen and Mr Thompson have left Dunedin, and no longer have interests in the bars.
Staff at Metro were told this month the pair would no longer be running the business.
Mr Hanssen had proposed a $5 million redevelopment in Greymouth.
But Greymouth businesses distanced themselves from the proposal, which was to turn the Railway and Royal hotels into a dining and entertainment block complete with nightclub, restaurants and outdoor seating.
Mr Hanssen initially said the project would be finished by Labour Day weekend this year.
In July, the Christchurch-based landlord of the Royal Hotel, Geoff Wakelin, said Mr Hanssen had not finalised a deal to purchase the building. Then-publican Mark Gillespie said he had not reached an agreement with Mr Hanssen either: “The ‘dream team’ is all about dreams. Nothing’s happening.”
The Royal Hotel closed in August. Meanwhile, Railway Hotel owner Grant Olsen had washed his hands of the project.
“I’m just doing my business,” he said recently. As far as I’m concerned, with the development down here, the Railway won’t be a part of it.”
Mr Hanssen and Mr Thompson did not return ODT calls.