Hubbard companies breach OIO rules

Two south Canterbury farming syndicates have been penalised $173,400 for breaches of the Overseas Investment Act.

Both syndicates involve UK investors Andrew and Paul Turney, while one also involves US company Schooner Agribusiness LLC.

The farming syndicates are two of six established by the late Alan Hubbard that were investigated by the OIO.

The other four syndicates have been wound up and their properties sold.

OIO manager Annelies McClure said the six syndicates, or their investors, breached the Overseas Investment Act 2005 and Overseas Investment Act 1973 several times after 2001.

The syndicates breached the acts by acquiring sensitive land without consent, as well as investing in the syndicates without consent.

The investigation found the breaches to be due to the overseas investors’ reliance on advisers in New Zealand to take care of necessary legal work.

The late Timaru businessman Alan Hubbard established the syndicates and a variety of legal advisers were involved in the transactions.

From the limited records available it appears that the advisers overlooked the requirements of the 1973 and 2005 acts.

Until the breaches were discovered in 2013, the investors were unaware that breaches had occurred.

The investors and syndicates admitted the breaches and have cooperated with the investigation.

The two syndicates have collectively paid $150,400 in penalties to charity: $93,400 to the Advance Ashburton Community Foundation; $43,000 to the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust; $5000 to the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust; $5000 to the Timpson Peel Forest Community Trust; and $4000 to the Order of St John (Ambulance Service) at Geraldine.

The syndicates have also paid $23,000 to cover the OIO’s investigation costs.

One of the two remaining syndicates has obtained consent from the OIO to keep its property, and the second has recently applied for consent to keep its property.

If consent is declined, the syndicate will be required to sell the property,” Ms McClure says.