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SFO to investigate Gisborne finance company


10 December 2010

Media release:
For immediate release

SFO to investigate Gisborne finance company

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today announced that they had commenced an investigation into the affairs of Gisborne finance company, Rockforte Finance Limited.

Rockforte was placed into receivership in May 2010 owing 77 investors $3,250,000.

Rockforte was a participant in the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme, and the majority of investors were covered by that scheme.

The SFO Chief Executive Adam Feeley said that while this investigation was smaller than other cases recently taken on by the office, the investigation had regional significance.

“Although not large in dollar terms, this is a case that has had a large impact on a local community. Therefore the investigation fits well with the SFO’s objective of restoring public confidence and improving financial security of New Zealand investors, within that community”

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 investigation resulted from an enquiry to the receiver, Dennis Parsons, by the SFO.

Mr Feeley said “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 Securities Commission and the National Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Economic Development are also looking at matters relating to the company.

The SFO will be working closely with these agencies to ensure the investigation is completed in a timely and well-coordinated manner.

Ends


Note to editors

Background of Rockforte

Rockforte Finance Limited (“Rockforte”) was incorporated in June 2003. Company Directors were John Patrick Gardner, Nigel Bret O’Leary and Colin Mark Simpson. The company carried out business of providing financial and lending services from its office in Gisborne. The company issued debt securities to the public and used the proceeds to make loans secured mainly over imported second hand motor vehicles.

Rockforte was a participant in the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

The company ceased taking in new funds in 2009.

In May 2010 Dennis Parsons of InDepth Forensic Limited was appointed receiver. According to the receiver’s first report, at the time of receivership 77 investors were owed $3,250,000. The majority of Investors were covered by the Crown Guarantee Scheme.


Role of SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.
The SFO operates three investigative teams:

• Fraud Detection & Intelligence;
• Financial Markets & Corporate Fraud; and
• Fraud & Corruption.
The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.
Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”
Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “..the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”
The SFO’s Statement of Intent 2010-2012 sets out the SFO’s three year strategic goals and performance standards. It is available online at: www.sfogovt.nz

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