Duo must raise 60k to tackle ASB

By DOUG LAING

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Two men who lost almost everything in company manager Blair Fitzsimons' multi-million dollar fraud against Hawke's Bay company Pioneer Insurance are being asked to front-up with more than $60,000 if they want to continue seeking compensation from their former bank.

But while Rob Elvidge says he and fellow stricken business partner John Gifford "can't come up with that sort of money", and friends have helped "far too much already", it's not the end of the road.

"We can't solve that little problem," he said, after the release of a court decision in favour of the ASB, who Mr Elvidge and joint plaintiff John Gifford, a fellow former lawyer, are suing for alleged failed duty of care in enabling Fitzsimons to obtain the money from an account over which they argue he had no signing authority.

"But all it does is stay the case, so we'll just have to see what transpires over the next year or so," Mr Elvidge told Hawke's Bay Today last night from his Napier home, where he and his wife have been tenants since having to sell the property in the wake of the calamity which unfolded as Fitzsimons brazenly admitted his dishonesty five years ago.

The two men were the founders and owners of Pioneer Insurance and employer of Fitzsimons at the time he wrote the cheques which cost them and the company almost $4 million.

He served about half of a prison sentence of four-and-a-half years, and is paying reparation of $250,000, about 6 per cent of the amount he stole - each man currently receiving $30 a week from the fraudster, via the courts.

The latest decree came in a decision by Associate Judge Rob Osborne, received on Friday and following a hearing in the High Court in Napier last month, when the bank sought security against costs in the defence of the investors' claim.

He ordered $25,000 to be lodged within 20 working days of last Friday, and a second sum of $37,500 at the setting of a date for the hearing of the men's claim.

If either "tranche of security" is not provided, the proceedings will be stayed until it has been provided.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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