Deputy editor of the Fairfax Business Bureau, Tim Hunter (“Chalkie”) has expressed his doubts today about a statement made by the Financial Marketing Authority (FMA) that six former directors of the Strategic Finance Ltd, who were recently banned for five years from directing a finance company, have ” limited personal assets” (Dompost, June 11, 2014). He implies that it was for this reason that the FMA took the view that they were unable to contribute anything from their own “piggy banks” to help compensate investors who lost millions due to the company’s collapse, and/or contribute to the settlement made between them and their auditors, and the company’s receivers. He argues: “Most likely, for at least some of them, their assets are held in trusts and arm’s length structures that keep their personal assets to a minimum.”
As examples “Chalkie” highlights the residential addresses given by Strategic Finance directors on the Companies Office website, as required by law, that indicate a wealthy lifestyle with assets held in trust.
Marcel Aubrey Lindale‘s address in Herne Bay, a five-bedroom house designed by Adams Langley, has a pool, a gym, a wine cellar and a current valuation of $7.1m. Property records show it is owned by a corporate trustee.
Graham Edward Jackson‘s address in Remuera has a current valuation of $4.1m and records indicate it is owned by trustees.
Kerry Finnigan‘s 1500 square metre property in Kohimarama, apparently owned by trustees, has a value of $1.95m.
Marcel Aubrey Lindale is listed as a director of 23 companies, several of which are owned or part owned by Emporio Trust, a corporate trustee.
“Chalkie includes these details to show the ‘limited personal assets’ of the directors do not necessarily indicate they do not have access to further resources. There is nothing untoward about this – it is standard practice for those taking on commercial risk to protect themselves in this way – but it does make things difficult for those making civil claims.”
“If a court was to award a civil claim, it would be up to the winners to extract their pound of flesh and breaking open trust structures would be like trying to win the Lake Taupo hole-in one challenge using a spade and a snooker ball.”
The auditors and former directors of Strategic Finance Limited recently settled civil action brought by the receivers of the failed finance company and agreed to pay $22 million.
Some 10,000 Strategic investors owed $367.8 million have been repaid 10 cents in the dollar, or $36.8 million, and PwC’s, John Fisk, the receiver, still estimates they will get between 12% and 20% of their principal back following the settlement.
The settlement will see former directors Kerry Finnigan, Graham Edward Jackson, Marcel Aubrey Lindale, Timothy John Rich, Denis Grenville Thom and David John Wolfenden barred from directing finance companies for five years. The FMA remains of the view that they are likely to have breached their disclosure obligations under the Securities Act.
Chalkie explains in full his reasons why investors want full disclosure from the FMA…..