Geneva Finance founder Glenn Andrew Walker has been suspended from the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants for the next five years or until he is out of bankruptcy.
Walker tipped himself into bankruptcy last May while being pursued by a retired couple who were owed at least $168,000 by him and his liquidated company, Financial Investments Group.
Walker appeared before the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants' disciplinary tribunal earlier this month facing two charges - one over his bankruptcy and another alleging he failed to respond promptly to the institute's professional conduct committee (PCC). The tribunal found both charges were proven.
The conduct committee that prosecuted Walker said if he had not appeared to answer the charges it would have pushed for his removal from the institute's register.
"The tribunal agrees with the PCC that failing to respond to correspondence in relation to a complaint is a very serious matter and in almost every case would attract further sanction.
However the tribunal has taken into account the fact that the member has appeared before it and that he has belatedly provided information to it and the PCC," the tribunal's chairman Mike Whale said.
"The tribunal considers suspension of the member's membership for the lesser period of the duration of his bankruptcy and five years to be a fair and proportionate penalty. The penalty is consistent with penalties imposed on other members who have become bankrupt for reasons unrelated to accounting work," Whale said. Walker was ordered to pay $1600 in costs.
Geneva Finance, now trading as GFNZ Group, entered into a moratorium in 2007 owing investors more than $130 million and in 2013 made final distributions under its repayment plan about 20 months ahead of schedule. Walker failed in his bid to be re-elected to Geneva Finance's board in late 2008.
The case of bankrupt accountant, Auckland's Murray Simpson, also came before the tribunal earlier this month. Simpson was suspended from the institute for five years or until he is out of his bankruptcy, which ever comes first.