Carol Braithwaite never wanted to be a director of failed finance company National Finance and had pleaded to be removed from the board over several years, the High Court at Auckland has heard.
Braithwaite has taken the stand this morning in her jury trial for allegedly misleading investors.
She told the court about her domineering ex-de facto husband Trevor Ludlow, who was the company's managing director.
The court heard how she had gone from working in the office to being asked to join the board, despite her protestations of inexperience. However, she felt she had to support Ludlow as it was a family business into which they were both injecting money, she said.
Braithwaite explained how she first met Ludlow in Napier in 1994 several years after her first marriage had ended.
"I met him through his sister ... I'd never met anyone like him.
"He's an entrepreneur guy who's big and brash and charming, a wheeler-dealer guy."
Both had three children from their previous marriages and went on to have two of their own children, now 13 and 11.
She moved to Auckland to share his home and began working in the National Finance office in 1998 chasing overdue payments.
She was never on a wage and was paid a $500-a-week-allowance, but as the family and Ludlow's "empire" grew all she wanted to do was look after the home and the children, she said.
But Ludlow wouldn't agree. "I didn't want to be a director. It (the company) was getting bigger, an empire the way things were going.
"He said he couldn't get another director. Allan (Ludlow's middle name) would get angry ... He would take it out on the children. He would smack the young ones, he would smack them hard."
Additionally, the $79,000 annual director's fee the company's prospectus stated she earned was untrue, she said. She only received an allowance.
Braithwaite also told the court about the collapse of the first National Finance company, and how Ludlow worked with the company's accountant to "learn from past mistakes" to establish another finance entity.
National Finance 2000 was created. It went into receivership in May 2006 owing around 2000 investors $24.8 million.
Ludlow was jailed last year for five years and seven months on a raft of charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office. In January he was sentenced to an additional nine months' imprisonment on charges brought by the Financial Markets Authority.
Braithwaite faces one charge of making untrue statements in the company's September 2005 registered prospectus. The company's former accountant, John Gray, was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment in November 2010 on charges brought by the SFO.
Braithwaite said today she signed the prospectus because she believed the document to be true and that all indications from her fellow directors indicated the company was doing very well.
Her two-week trial is expected to end on Friday