Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Ross investors warned of bankruptcy action

Bankruptcy action a risk if any court order to return money to liquidators not obeyed.

David Ross was jailed for 10 years and 10 months for running a Ponzi scheme in which his investors lost $115 million when his business collapsed. Photo / Mark Mitchell
David Ross was jailed for 10 years and 10 months for running a Ponzi scheme in which his investors lost $115 million when his business collapsed. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Bankruptcy action could be brought against Ross Asset Management investors who don't comply with any orders to return payouts.

David Ross' victims lost around $115 million when his company collapsed in November 2012. The former financial adviser ran a Ponzi-scheme through his Wellington business and disguised it by falsely reporting clients' investments. His scheme reported false profits to investors of $351 million between June 2000 and September 2012 from the purported trading of fictitious securities.

RAM's liquidators have long signalled they may try to claw back money from investors who received a payout from the company before it collapsed.

John Fisk and Duncan Bridgman have asked three investors to return $3.8 million. No agreement between the parties could be reached and the liquidators said in a report this week that it was anticipated legal action would be filed "imminently" with the High Court.

The report also said any investor who has withdrawn money since December 2010 was placed on notice that the liquidators believe they may have a valid claim to recover the funds. This would be on the basis the investors received more than they otherwise would have during a liquidation.

Asked if those who don't pay or can't pay because they've spent the funds could be made bankrupt, Fisk said: "That would come down to whether the court ordered that the money should be repaid and one of the things the court takes into account is whether the recipient has changed their position in the belief that the payment was valid.

"If someone received a repayment from RAM and say they spent it on a world trip then there's an argument that that could be a change of position and therefore the court would not order the money be repaid to RAM."

However, Fisk said this "change of position" defence would be less likely to "hold water" after investors were put on notice that the money could be clawed back.

Read the latest liquidator's report here:

- NZ Herald

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