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$21.6M settlement offer to 160 'overpaid' investors

Ross Asset liquidators put $21.6M settlement offer to 160 'overpaid' investors

By Paul McBeth

July 14 (BusinessDesk) - The liquidators for Ross Asset Management has written to 160 investors paid fictitious profits from the country's biggest-ever Ponzi scheme with an offer to settle for $21.6 million.

PwC's John Fisk and David Bridgman put the offer to those investors after the May 26 Supreme Court ruling that Wellington lawyer Hamish McIntosh could keep the principal he invested in Ross Asset Management but had to return the fake profits. Those investors have until July 21 to accept the deal, otherwise the liquidators "will be considering further recovery action," they said in their latest update on the fraudulent business.

The report says another 54 investors cut deals with the liquidators before the Supreme Court decision, allowing them to recover $9.7 million for the 1,200 or so investors out of pocket. They have also told investors facing capital-only claims that they won't be pursued.

Wellington-based David Ross built up a private investment service by word of mouth, producing regular reports for shareholders indicating healthy but fictitious returns. Between June 2000 and September 2012, Ross reported false profits of $351 million from fictitious securities trading as part of a fraud that was the largest such crime committed by an individual in New Zealand.

In reality, about $100 million to $115 million of investor funds were frittered away in the Ponzi scheme, and the liquidators sought to claw back funds paid out to investors in the lead-up to the collapse, going all the way to the Supreme Court, so as to equally share the money with Ross's victims.

Fisk and Bridgman said they will need court directions on the most appropriate way to distribute the funds and have started work on an application which they will show investors before lodging their submission with the courts.

"Investors will have an opportunity to make submissions to the court should they wish to be heard on this matter," the liquidators said. "As soon as possible after the model has been approved the liquidators intend to make an interim distribution to investors."

The latest report shows Ross Asset Management is sitting on about $9.2 million in cash, including settlements, asset sales and investment income, and after $2 million of legal fees and $1.3 million of liquidators' fees.



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