Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

'Significant delays' in $60m Hubbard case

Jean Hubbard. File photo / Sarah Ivey
Jean Hubbard. File photo / Sarah Ivey

Jean Hubbard "changing her mind" over $60 million of assets has caused "significant delays" for those with money in one of her late husband's investment vehicles, its statutory managers said today.

Grant Thornton, statutory managers of Aorangi Securities, has responded to a group of angry investors which complained to the Government about their performance.

Last week the group, which has the support of 230 investors in Aorangi Securities or Hubbard Management Funds, said Grant Thornton has "failed to adequately protect assets".

The investor group was angry that a late discovery of boxes of documents by Grant Thornton has put off a $60 million asset wrangle in the Timaru High Court.

This hearing will determine a claim from Jean Hubbard - the widow of Timaru businessman Allan Hubbard - that $60 million of the $96 million of Aorangi Securities assets were never transferred to Aorangi's ownership and are therefore hers and for her late husband's estate.

The proceedings were scheduled to begin in October 29 but has not been put off until May next year at the request of the statutory managers following the discovery of the document boxes.

In its reply to investors today, Grant Thornton said the group had failed to understand the situation with Aorangi Securities, despite many meetings with them.

The managers said Alan Hubbard transferred the $60 million of assets to Aorangi in 2009 and 2010 but failed to complete the change of ownership.

"It's like selling your car, but not completing the change of ownership papers properly. Someone else now owns your car, even though it is still registered in your name. As a result, it is the view of the statutory managers that Aorangi Securities has beneficial ownership of the $60 million, even though the assets are in the names of the Hubbards," Grant Thornton said.

"Since the statutory managers commenced proceedings to confirm the ownership, Mrs Hubbard has changed her mind and is now personally contesting Aorangi's ownership of the $60 million of assets. She wants to keep the assets worth $60 million. It is this action that is causing the significant delay, including having to find every relevant document on record.

Grant Thornton acknowledged that the discovery of the 70 boxes had caused "further delays" and this was disappointing for investors.

"However, this additional information is now essential given Mrs Hubbard is contesting the ownership of Aorangi assets," the managers said.

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