Fate of investors' money a mystery, lawyer claims

By Corey Charlton

A man alleged to have rorted investors of $243,000 set up an intricate investment structure which may have been his undoing, a court has heard.

During the second day of the trial of Peter Jonatahn Rens, 73, at the Napier District Court, the defence opened its case with Rens taking the stand.

Defence lawyer Bill Calver told the jury that Rens was particularly embarrassed that despite the length of time passed he still hadn't been able to come up with a "definitive answer" as to what had happened to the investors' funds.

Rens, originally from South Africa, faces 12 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship after 12 different people gave him money to invest on their behalf on the international stock markets.

Yesterday he told the court that he would work nights when the international markets opened about 1.30am New Zealand time.

He was asked by Mr Calver why he had not set up a New Zealand registered company with an overseas bank account for trading.

It was easier to register it in the Dominican Republic, he said, because company registration there didn't require a director, a secretary or any documents to go to the IRS "because they don't have one".

He also said that when he was wanting to transfer money, the money would travel through about four different entities.

Mr Calver told the jury earlier this week that Rens wasn't a "crook", and simply hadn't been able to ascertain what had happened to the money.

The court heard how the group of investors had not seen a "penny" of their investment or any supposed profits they had made.

The first investor was a flying instructor who had met Rens at the Hawke's Bay Gliding club, and who gave him $11,000 in 2004. By the next year, 12 people had invested sums ranging from $5000 to $105,000, totalling $243,000.

By 2006 the investors became restless about their money and calls, emails and meetings were attempted with Rens. When they eventually received responses from him some of them asked for their money back, crown prosecutor Josh Lucas said.

In 2007, Rens left his Havelock North home "without telling any of the investors where he was going" and without any money being returned, and not long afterwards police were notified.

He was arrested and charged in 2010.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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