Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Woman fears more lost money

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A Pukekohe woman whose family lost more than $300,000 last year to a gold trader facing fraud charges is now worried she won't get back hundreds of thousands of dollars she invested in a water-bottling project.

In 2011 Rose Fraser put $250,000 into a company called Water 3000 Ltd, which wants to build a water bottling plant over a spring in the Canterbury town of Kaiapoi.

But Ms Fraser, who is a listed shareholder of the firm, now has "grave concerns" she won't be seeing any of this money again after trying to get it back for months.

She has complained to the Financial Markets Authority, which has said an investigator will look into the matter.

Water 3000's director, Hamilton man John Ruka, had been unable to provide any information on how her family's $250,000 was spent, Ms Fraser said.

During a taped conversation with Ms Fraser's ex-husband last August, Mr Ruka promised the money would be returned by last Christmas but this did not happen.

"I absolutely guarantee it," Mr Ruka said at the time. "They deserve it back.

"The fact they have agreed to take it back without interest is even better."

On this same tape - which the Herald has listened to - Mr Ruka claimed to be in charge of a trust which had the Maori King, Tuheitia, as a beneficiary.

Mr Ruka also said that $2 billion worth of gold was being brought into the trust from Europe "for the safe-keeping of the King".

According to King Tuheitia's chief adviser, Tukoroirangi Morgan, there is no connection between Mr Ruka and the office of the King.

The Herald has made numerous attempts to contact Mr Ruka but he has not returned calls.

It is not known how exactly many people have put money into his company, although the Herald has been told there are others who have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into the water-bottling venture.

Documents which Mr Ruka gave to the Frasers say the project is estimated to cost US$174 million ($207 million).

Mr Ruka first claimed he had Chinese backers in Christchurch interested in the project and then Canadian financiers, Ms Fraser said.

Investors were told last year that members of a London company, the Vitala Group, were due to visit the Kaiapoi site in September but she did not believe this had taken place.

According to forecasts given to investors, Water 3000 had the potential to make $43 million in profits during its first year of operation, $76 million in its second year and $94 million in its third year.

But the plant to process and bottle the water has not yet been built.

About the time the Frasers invested in Water 3000, the family also put $340,000 into a bullion trading firm, Grace Holdings NZ.

However, last February they were told they would not be getting their money back and the Serious Fraud Office launched a probe into thefirm.

After an 11-month investigation, the SFO charged Grace Holdings' Kairuaiti Tangata Oropai Robert Kairua, with 29 counts of theft by a person in special relationship and false statement by a promoter.

- NZ Herald

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