Former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley has been ordered to pay up to $6 million for her role in the collapse of construction company Mainzeal.
Dame Jenny is one of four company directors found by the High Court to have breached their directors' duties and trade recklessly.
Justice Cooke awarded $36 million in compensation to liquidators from the directors, plus another $2.1 million from another related company, Isola Vineyards Limited, which is now also in liquidation.
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Mainzeal went into liquidation in early 2013, owing unsecured creditors like tradies, sub-contractors and employees about $110 million.
Andrew Bethell of liquidators BDO said creditors have waited a long time for this day.
"We are thrilled with this judgment by the High Court, which sets an important precedent for the required standards of corporate governance and care owed by company directors in New Zealand towards the company and creditors," he said.
Former directors Dame Jenny Shipley, Clive Tilby and Peter Gomm issued a statement of their own in response to the judgment.
"The Court's basis for finding liability appears to have novel aspects which will require careful consideration. The directors will not comment further at this stage as they take advice and consider their options."
The fourth director, Richard Yan, was found by the court to have induced the other directors to breach their duties, including making misleading representations to them. The decision holds him liable for the full $36 million awarded in compensation.