Inside Money

Business writer David Chaplin blogs on personal finance

Inside Money: Sorry about that - brought to you by Capital+Merchant

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Owen Tallentire, former CEO of Capital and Merchant Finance, was sentenced five years jail last week. Picture / Sarah Ivey
Owen Tallentire, former CEO of Capital and Merchant Finance, was sentenced five years jail last week. Picture / Sarah Ivey

I can recall Owen Tallentire confidently assuring me that his company, Capital+Merchant Finance (C+M), was well-placed to withstand the investor backlash expected in the wake of Bridgecorp's failure in 2007.

At the time we spoke, I think, Tallentire was in Australia promoting another of his soon-to-be-discredited investment opportunities, Cymbis Finance - expansion, not collapse, was on his mind.

Blathering about the alleged protection C+M investors were afforded by the group's insurance deal with Lloyds, he was sanguine about the company's future and the impact of upcoming regulations.

"... I welcome regulation, it's far easier to operate with it than without it," Tallentire told me.

Worryingly, he described the rigorous process the research firm Fitch had put C+M through on the way to receiving a rating. While very little of what Tallentire breezily expounded on proved accurate he did get this right: "It will be very interesting to see what happens next..."

Last week Tallentire, along with fellow C+M directors Wayne Leslie Douglas and Neal Medhurst Nicholls, was sent down for a lengthy jail term for his part in what the Crown prosecutor labelled "top-end offending".

The presiding judge in the case, Justice Ed Wylie, was equally scathing: "The offending was sophisticated. It was not spur of the moment opportunism," Wylie said. "Each of the offenders was driven by self-interest and greed."

I don't think those attributes are unusual but the ability to implement them effectively probably are.

According to Tallentire et al's defence lawyer they're all very sorry and so they should be.

We're all pretty sorry, as the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) 'Inquiries, Investigations and Enforcement Report' revealed last week.

"Since March 2006, 65 New Zealand finance companies have failed: closed; in liquidation; receivership; moratorium or have been suspended," the FMA report says. "An estimated $3.1 billion has already been lost and around $8.6 billion is still at risk. Approximately 205,000 people have been affected as a result."

These are facts to bear in mind the next time someone confidently assures you of something that doesn't make sense.

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