FMA warns New Zealanders to steer clear of General Equity
By Suze Metherell
Sept. 30 (BusinessDesk) - The Financial Markets Authority has warned New Zealanders to exercise "extreme caution" when dealing with building society General Equity and has ordered the company to display the regulator's warning on its website.
The Auckland-based registered building society is not a registered deposit taker or subject to the oversight of the Reserve Bank and conducts most of its business offshore, the regulator said in a statement. The company has not issued shares to the public and the FMA was not aware of any New Zealander suffering losses.
"FMA warns any persons dealing with General Equity to exercise extreme caution before obtaining any financial services, or acquiring any financial products," the regulator said. "In FMA’s view, General Equity has engaged in conduct and has made statements that are misleading and deceptive in connection with its status as a financial markets participant and how it is regulated in New Zealand."
General Equity first launched in 2007 and offers financial services such as due diligence, long and short term fixed deposit accounts, money transfers, varied documentary collections and letters of credits, according to its website. Murray Greer, the company's chair, is a former managing director of Rifleman Finance, now known as Ventry, a finance company with connections to discharged bankrupt Jamie Peters.
According to its annual report the company more than doubled profit to US$1.5 million in the year ended March 31, as sales nearly trebled to US$2.1 million. In events after the balance date, General Equity flags an undisclosed supplier made a US$200,000 claim against it for services provided. General Equity said it denied liability and the matter was resolved under confidential terms.