Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Agria fined $220,000 for overseas investment breach

21 March 2019

Agria fined $220,000 for overseas investment breach

Today the High Court imposed fines totalling $220,000 against Agria and Mr Alan Lai for breaches of the requirement to remain of good character under conditions of Agria’s investment in PGG Wrightson.

This follows penalty proceedings taken by the Overseas Investment Office against Agria and Mr Lai.

Land Information New Zealand Group Manager, Overseas Investment Office, Vanessa Horne welcomed the judgement. “The judgement reinforces that overseas investment in New Zealand is a privilege and there are on-going responsibilities when investing here.”

In imposing the penalties, Justice Gordon considered the nature and extent of the breaches to be serious. “There is a strong need to deter breaches of the good character requirement having regard to its importance in the context of the scheme of the Act,” she said. Justice Gordon also considered that the penalty needed to ensure that large corporations take their obligations under the Act seriously.

The breaches of the overseas investment good character conditions arise from the settlement Agria Corporation and Mr Lai entered into with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) concerning alleged violations of United States securities law.

Following the settlement with the SEC, both Agria and Mr Lai agreed with the Overseas Investment Office that the actions in the United States amounted to a breach of Agria’s conditions of consent for its investment in PGG Wrightson. Agria and Mr Lai agreed that civil penalties should be imposed by the High Court for the breaches. The High Court today ordered:

• Agria to pay $100,000 in penalties.

• Mr Lai to pay $120,000 in penalties.

• Agria and Mr Lai to pay the Overseas Investment Office $30,000 towards its costs.

The size of the penalty reflects the serious nature and extent of the securities violations alleged in the United States, involving fraudulent accounting and share price manipulation.

“The Overseas Investment Office requires overseas investors to behave responsibly with all investments. In the case of Agria, the Overseas Investment Office was concerned at the exposure public investors faced as a result of the securities violations alleged in the United States and that the behaviour reflected poorly on the character of those who controlled Agria,” Vanessa Horne said.

As part of the settlement reached with the Overseas Investment Office, Agria agreed to divest its interest in PGG Wrightson to below 50 percent, which it did in December 2018.

A link to the settlement reached with the OIO can be found here.

A link to information on the United States SEC investigation is here.


Q&A

Who is Agria Corporation and Agria (Singapore) PTE Ltd?

Agria Singapore is ultimately owned by Agria Corporation and is a Singaporean registered company. Agria Corporation is a Cayman Island registered company.

Who is Alan Lai?

Also known as Lai Guanglin, he is a citizen of Singapore and lives in Hong Kong. He is Chair of Agria Corporation and was Chair and director of PGG Wrightson at the end of October 2018. He is also a key shareholder in Agria Corporation.

What did Agria have consent for?

Agria Singapore was consented in 2009 and then 2011 to acquire a 50.22 percent shareholding in PGG Wrightson.

What is the good character condition?

Under the conditions of consent, individuals with control of Agria, such as Mr Lai, were required to continue to be of good character. The condition reflects that individuals with control of an investor must meet a good character requirement before they can invest in particular assets in New Zealand.

What does the good character condition require?

The good character condition is designed to ensure overseas persons investing in sensitive New Zealand assets are unlikely to act inappropriately or bring New Zealand into disrepute.

What did the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigate?

Agria Corporation’s American Depository Shares were formerly registered with the SEC and traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Agria and Mr Lai were subject to investigation by the SEC following the delisting of Agria Corporation from the New York Stock Exchange on 2 January 2017.

The SEC allegations concerned serious violations of United States securities laws.

More information about the SEC investigations and settlements is here.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

TradeMe: Property Prices In Every Region Hit New High For The Very First Time

Property prices experienced their hottest month on record in December, with record highs in every region, according to the latest Trade Me Property Price Index.\ Trade Me Property spokesperson Logan Mudge said the property market ended the year with ... More>>

Motor Industry Association: 2020 New Vehicle Registrations Suffer From Covid-19

Chief Executive David Crawford says that like some other sectors of the New Zealand economy, the new vehicle sector suffered from a case of Covid-19. Confirmed figures for December 2020 show registrations of 8,383 were 25% ... More>>

CTU 2021 Work Life Survey: COVID And Bullying Hit Workplaces Hard, Huge Support For Increased Sick Leave

New data from the CTU’s annual work life survey shows a snapshot of working people’s experiences and outlook heading out of 2020 and into the new year. Concerningly 42% of respondents cite workplace bullying as an issue in their workplace - a number ... More>>

Smelter: Tiwai Deal Gives Time For Managed Transition

Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed to working on a managed transition with the local community,” Grant Robertson said. More>>

ALSO:

OECD: Area Employment Rate Rose By 1.9 Percentage Points In The Third Quarter Of 2020

OECD area employment rate rose by 1.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2020, but remained 2.5 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level The OECD area [1] employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – rose ... More>>

Economy: Strong Job Ad Performance In Quarter Four

SEEK Quarterly Employment Report data shows a positive q/q performance with a 19% national growth in jobs advertised during Q4 2020, which includes October, November and December. Comparing quarter 4, 2020, with the same quarter in 2019 shows that job ad volumes are 7% lower...More>>

NIWA: 2020 - NZ’s 7th-warmest Year On Record

The nationwide average temperature for 2020, calculated using stations in NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which began in 1909, was 13.24°C (0.63°C above the 1981–2010 annual average). New Zealand’s hottest year on record remains 2016, when... More>>

Quotable Value New Zealand: Property Market Set To Cool From Sizzling To Warm In 2021

Nostradamus himself could not have predicted the strange series of events that befell our world in 2020 – nor the wild trajectory of New Zealand’s property market, which has gone from “doom and gloom” to “boom and Zoom” in record time. Even ... More>>