The Financial Markets Authority has won its appeal against a High Court ruling that it breached Vivier & Co's rights to natural justice by failing to provide the firm with detailed evidence for the decision to remove it from the Financial Services Providers Register.
The market watchdog removed Vivier, which counts one-time political operator Luigi Wewege as managing director, from the register last year because it didn't believe the company was providing services in New Zealand. Vivier successfully appealed its deregistration in the High Court last September, arguing the FMA only began to investigate the firm after a member of the public passed on an Interest.co.nz online news article, linking the firm to sub-prime mortgages in Ireland. The FMA subsequently appealed that decision.
The Court of Appeal today overturned the High Court ruling and ordered that Vivier be deregistered, saying that the FMA was entitled to rely on its expert knowledge of financial markets in New Zealand and overseas when assessing whether Vivier's registration was misleading or damaging.
The appeal court also found that the FMA didn't rely on a media report about the accusations of tax fraud and money laundering made in Ireland against Vivier and therefore didn't need to disclose that to the company. Accordingly there was no breach of natural justice by the FMA.
Vivier is owned by chairman Gary Warner, who is general manager of another Auckland-based financial services provider, Apex Capital Investment. Vivier was incorporated in 2001 with a core focus on "savings accounts featuring above average returns", according to the company's website.