SFO launches 17th investigation
White collar crime fighter, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), has rounded out a busy week with the launch of another finance company investigation – this time into failed Gisborne financier Rockforte Finance.
Rockforte, fell into receivership in May, owing $3,250,000 to 77 investors.
Because it was a participant in the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme, investors will see the money repaid.
Rockforte is the seventeenth finance that has been investigated by the SFO since 2007. Nine of those investigations are ongoing and, to date, five have resulted in criminal charges.
The Securities Commission and the National Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Economic Development are also looking at matters relating to the financier and its directors Nigel O'Leary, John Gardner and Colin Simpson.
SFO chief executive Adam Feeley said although the Rockforte investigation was smaller than others the office, the investigation had taken on, it had regional significance, with the collapse having made a big impact on the Gisborne community.
The investigation was launched after the SFO made some enquiries to Rockforte’s receiver, Dennis Parsons, said Mr Feeley.
“The assistance we have had from the receiver has been invaluable, and is typical of the very good support SFO is getting from liquidators and receivers.”
The first receivers report, released in August, revealed Rockforte had 318 loans, primarily small amounts secured over second-hand Japanese imported vehicles.
At the date of receivership there was $4.8 million in loans outstanding with $1.1 million classed as overdue - a figure receivers noted was likely to be inaccurate due to the company's refinancing practices.
The impaired loan book also revealed large amounts of related-party lending to women's clothing chain Jean Jones - now in receivership.
Rockforte entered the Crown Retail Deposit scheme in February last year and is one of six institutions to default, triggering the Crown guarantee.