Former New York property developer Colin Rath back in Christchurch court for more forgery offending

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Colin Rath was back in court on more fraud charges after being jailed earlier this year for committing tax fraud to the tune of $1.3 million.

A former New York property developer who sailed to New Zealand on a luxury yacht and was jailed for committing tax fraud to the tune of $1.3 million is back in court on more forgery charges.

Colin David Rath, 59, appeared at the Christchurch District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to three charges, including two of forgery and one of using a document for a pecuniary advantage.

Rath was jailed in March this year for three years and seven months on 39 charges, including using a document for a pecuniary advantage relating to GST returns and forgery relating to the Inland Revenue Department and Immigration New Zealand.


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During his sentencing, the court heard that Rath had a “very privileged” background, more so than most defendants that appear before a judge.

Colin Rath was behind the Fiddlers Green winery in North Canterbury. Photo / Supplied
Colin Rath was behind the Fiddlers Green winery in North Canterbury. Photo / Supplied

Today Rath appeared via AVL from custody and entered guilty pleas to the three new charges through his lawyer Craig Ruane.

The charges are related to his previous offending, Ruane said.

He was charged that on February 4, 2019, at Christchurch he used a US Coast Guard Deletion Notice that he knew was forged to obtain a pecuniary advantage.


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He was further charged that on December 4, 2018, at Christchurch he used another document he knew was forged – a satisfaction of mortgage – for a pecuniary advantage

The third charge was that between December 1, 2015, and December 10, 2018, at Christchurch by deception and without claim of right he obtained ownership of a pecuniary advantage namely $380,000.

Judge Jane Farish noted the guilty pleas and set a date in November for Rath to be sentenced.

At his sentencing earlier this year, Judge Quentin Hix said Rath was supported by his family and well-respected in the community, particularly in America where he lived for some time.

It was unfortunate he had “crossed a line” by engaging in illegal activity and he had no previous convictions, the judge said.

Rath sailed to New Zealand on a luxury yacht with his family in 2016.

The following year, he started a winery business in the Waipara wine-growing region in North Canterbury.

However, his businesses, Waipara Winds Ltd which traded as Fiddler’s Green restaurant and vineyard, and New York Grape Escape Ltd, struggled.

Over a four-year span, through his two companies, Rath filed 39 false GST returns.

In support of them, he prepared 85 forged documents.


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He also used 13 forged documents purporting to be from Inland Revenue in support of an entrepreneur residency visa application to Immigration New Zealand.

Inland Revenue, which brought the prosecution against Rath, said he was given just over $1.3m in refunds.

During his sentencing, Rath said he had let his wife and daughters down.

“I did defraud the system but I needed a way to cover my costs,” he was recorded as saying.

Rath will appear again in November to be sentenced for the further three charges.

Emily Moorhouse is a Christchurch-based Open Justice journalist at NZME. She joined NZME in 2022. Before that, she was at the Christchurch Star.


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