High Court freezes investment firm's assets, FMA investigates
"Well done to the FMA for taking action. Any hint of wrongdoing must be promptly investigated to protect investors."Featured comment
UPDATE // The Wellington High Court has frozen the assets of Ross Asset Management, which has been under investigation by the Financial Markets Authority for the past five days.
NBR ONLINE understands Ross Asset Management's offices were raided this morning.
In the Wellington High Court this afternoon, the FMA applied for a manager to be appointed to the business of Ross Asset Management, but this hearing has been adjourned until Tuesday.
The High Court has frozen numerous assets of Ross Asset Management's director David Ross, which include:
- Ross Asset Management Ltd
- Bevis Marks Corporation Ltd
- Dagger Nominees Ltd
- Mercury Asset Management Ltd
- Ross Investment Management Ltd
- Ross Unit Trusts Management Ltd
- United Asset Management Ltd
- McIntosh Asset Management Ltd
- Chapman Ross Trust
- Woburn Ross Trust
EARLIER: The Financial Markets Authority is investigating Ross Asset Management, a long-established Wellington-based boutique firm founded in 1989.
It is understood the firm may be managing more than $300 million in funds.
In a development this afternoon Serious Fraud Office acting chief executive Simon McArley says the agency has received some complaints in relation to director David Ross but at this stage there was no indication of what had taken place.
Mr McArley says it is up to the FMA to do the "initial entry" and work to protect the positions of clients.
"If they find anything untoward then certainly we will assess it. It's in our threshold.
"But we have no idea what it is, Mr Ross could be just sick," Mr McArley says.
The company's offices in the Morrison Kent Building on The Terrace are locked up, with no sign of activity inside, after reports the FMA shut the office down earlier today.
David Robert Gilmour Ross, and Jillian Ross are Ross Asset Management's only shareholders, each holding 50%.
Mr Ross, who is an authorised financial advisor, is also a director of United Asset Management, Bevis Marks Corporation, Dagger Nominees, Mercury Asset Management, McIntosh Asset Management, Ross Unit Trusts Management, Ross Investment Management, and Hayes Trustees.
Two of those firms - United Asset Management and Dagger Nominees - have holdings in investment company Trans-Tasman Resources, of which former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley is an executive director.
Trans-Tasman Resources was set up in 2007 to mine iron ore deposits from New Zealand's west coast beaches.
United Asset Management is TTR's sixth largest shareholder.
LOCKED UP: Ross Asset Management's office this afternoon.
Mr Ross, understood to have invested in global equities, could not be contacted by telephone.
Neville Goldie, a chartered accountant and former Saatchi & Saatchi director, told NBR ONLINE he knows Mr Ross and is surprised to hear the news.
However, he says "without knowing what has happened I would not have a view."
In November 1993, NBR reported Ross Asset Management was achieving a 31.3% return on assets under discretionary management.
By February 1994, the return on assets had ballooned to 37.2%.
In a statement to NBR ONLINE this afternoon, the FMA confirms it is "making inquiries into the affairs of David Ross of Ross Asset Management and is actively engaging with a number of related parties".