An Auckland gold trader, which told a family last week it would not pay them more than $340,000 they were owed, has been placed into liquidation and is formally being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
Grace Holdings New Zealand Ltd, trading as Bullion Buyer, has a statement on its website informing the public that Grant Reynolds of Reynolds and Associates has been appointed as liquidator.
The statement said: "The company's failure was primarily the result of actions taken by Elijah Gus Geldman who was formally one of our traders. Mr Geldman is currently in custody in the United States of America.
The company has laid a complaint with the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office regarding Mr Geldman's actions. The company attempted to secure a capital injection from an overseas party which would have resulted in securing the position of its investors.
The overseas investor withdrew from investment discussions as a result of adverse publicity relating to the Fraser Family and their investments in the company."
The Herald reported last week that Robert Kairua - Grace Holdings NZ Ltd's sole director - told Brent Fraser that his wife and children would not be repaid more than $340,000 they had invested in leveraged options with Bullion Buyers.
The bullion investment company had an office in the Vero building in downtown Auckland and its website has advertised heavily on television and radio and called itself "New Zealand's trusted name in bullion trading".
The Herald's attempts to get in touch with Kairua have been unsuccessful.
Serious Fraud Office chief executive Adam Feeley said this morning the agency began formally investigating Bullion Buyers on Monday after receiving numerous complaints from investors.
"Since then, we have moved swiftly to assess these complaints, secure the company's financial records, and make additional inquiries. As a result we have concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence of serious fraud may have been committed, and accordingly commenced a formal investigation under Part 2 of the SFO Act," Feeley said in a statement just issued.
He said that the SFO's priority was now to make contact with as many investors as possible, and to coordinate their investigation with other agencies which may have an interest in the matter.
In particular, the SFO said it was liaising with the Registrar of Companies to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect any funds for the benefit of creditors of the company.
He said investors wishing to contact the SFO should call on 0800 109 800 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org