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The Serious Fraud Office has opened a formal investigation into an Auckland gold and precious metals trading company whose clients claim to have lost their funds.
Meanwhile, Grace Holdings, trading as BullionBuyer.co.nz, has been placed in liquidation as investors continue to search for answers.
Last week NBR reported the Fraser family of Christchurch said they had had been told the $350,000 they had invested with Bullion Buyer was gone.
The NZ Herald followed with a report suggesting complaints had been made to the SFO.
Grace Holdings’ sole director and shareholder Robert Kairua has gone to ground and is not returning calls.
Former director Simon Bratley, who resigned two weeks ago, is also not taking phone calls.
This morning SFO boss Adam Feeley said the media reports late last week of investors’ concerns about their investments had resulted in numerous other persons coming forward to contact the SFO.
”Since then, we have moved swiftly to assess these complaints, secure the company’s financial records, and make additional inquiries," Mr Feeley said in a statement.
"As a result we have concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence of serious fraud may have been committed, and accordingly commenced a formal investigation under Part 2 of the SFO Act."
Mr Feeley said the agency’s priority was to make contact with as many investors as possible, and to coordinate their investigation with other agencies, which may have an interest in the matter.
In particular, the SFO said it was liaising with the Registrar of Companies to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect any funds for the benefit of creditors of the company.
In a statement on its website Grace Holdings said Grant Reynolds of Reynolds and Associates has been appointed as liquidator.
“It is with regret that Grace Holdings New Zealand Limited trading as Bullion Buyer was placed into liquidation this afternoon,” the statement said.
“The company’s failure was primarily the result of actions taken by Elijah Gus Geldman who was formally one of our traders. Mr Geldman is currently in custody in the United States of America. The company has laid a complaint with the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office regarding Mr Geldman’s actions.”
The company said it had attempted to secure a capital injection from an overseas party, which would have resulted in securing the position of its investors.
The company claimed the overseas investor withdrew from investment discussions following the media coverage last week.
Investors are invited to contact the SFO on 0800 109 800 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org