Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Strategic Finance's $22m settlement

Kerry Finnigan, former head of Stragetic Finance.  Photo / Supplied
Kerry Finnigan, former head of Stragetic Finance. Photo / Supplied

The Financial Markets Authority won't disclose who will pay what in its $22 million Strategic Finance settlement and says this confidentiality is appropriate.

Strategic Finance' directors and its auditors BDO Spicers will pay $22 million after reaching a settlement with the FMA and the failed firm's receivers.

The settlement announced today will see another 5c in the dollar paid out to the finance company's secured investors, who were owed more than $360 million when the company went into receivership.

The further payout will mean that total amount returned to secured investors by the end of the year will amount to 15 cents in the dollar, the receivers said today. A further payment to investors will be by the end of the year.

But the FMA's head of enforcement Belinda Moffat could not disclose who paid what out of the directors and auditors.

"That's confidential," she said.

Asked if it was appropriate for a regulator to enter into a confidential settlement with the directors, who it believed were likely to have breached the Securities Act, Moffat said:

"When we consider what's in the best interest of the investors and in the public interest, we do have the ability and authority to reach a settlement like this and we very very carefully consider what is appropriate... and so a situation where confidentiality is going to be a term to achieve that outcome that will deliver a good return for the individual investors and then for the public at large, then it is appropriate for us to agree to terms of confidentiality."

Moffat said the FMA considered that the most important information for the public and investors was to know the total amount to be returned, the $22 million.

The six former Strategic directors in the settlement - Kerry Finnigan, Graham Edward Jackson, Marcel Aubrey Lindale, Timothy John Rich, Denis Grenville Thom and David John Wolfenden - have also undertaken not to act as a director or promoter of a public issuer of securities for five years or accept appointment or employment or act as a chief executive or chief financial officer of a public issuer of securities for three years.

Last year the FMA announced that it believed the directors were likely to have breached the Securities Act by making untrue statements in a registered prospectus, investment statement and in an advertisement between March 2008 and August 2008.

Strategic's receivers, Colin McCloy and John Fisk from PwC, were also chasing the directors and the company's auditors, BDO Spicers.

Today's settlement with the directors and BDO - which will see the $22 million paid over the next six months - bring all those claims to an end and was made without any admission of liability by any party.

"In reaching this settlement we are providing certainty and compensation to investors. We have also been mindful of avoiding a lengthy and costly court case, with potential litigation risk. The terms of the settlement deliver a strong deterrence message and include enforceable undertakings from the directors of Strategic not to act as a director of an issuer of securities to the public for 5 years," said Moffat.

"While the directors do not admit liability, FMA remains of the view that they are likely to have breached their disclosure obligations under the Securities Act.

"However, given the limited personal assets of the directors, this settlement represents the best outcome for investors in the circumstances," said Moffat.

See today's PwC announcement here:

- with BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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