Blue Chip investors need money not scalps - lawyer (+video)

By Edward Gay

Any convictions over the collapse of Blue Chip-related companies would be meaningless to investors unless their money was also returned to them, a lawyer said today.

Some 300 angry investors packed out a meeting at the Auckland Business Centre in Remuera this morning to listen to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the liquidator of the 20 failed companies.

Outside the meeting, investors told that they wanted to see people punished for the failed property investment company, now in liquidation and under investigation by the SFO.

Lawyer Paul Dale told them: "What you need is to get your money back and that won't happen because of publicity. It won't happen because of threats or rhetoric."

He said it was important investors were well organised if they planned to sue for damages.

Mr Dale said if a valuer was found to have inflated prices or a lawyer to have given bad advice, investors could have a case - as long as they could prove it had cost them money.

There was a role for the Serious Fraud Office to play to make sure anyone responsible was punished, he said.

SFO senior investigator Ian Varley told investors information was being collated and analysed but the investigation was still in its early stages.

Suzanne Edmonds, coordinator for EUFA - Exposing Unacceptable Financial Activities and the organiser of this morning's meeting said some people were suffering financial strain and two investors had had to get food parcels.

"It is appalling that there will be people in this room who cannot afford to take legal action and so these people will walk away and they will have won by default," Mrs Edmonds said.

Liquidator Jeff Meltzer addressed the meeting and told investors it was possible they could receive some money in six to eight weeks.

He said he could not be more specific but more would be known in two weeks' time.

Mr Meltzer said the complicated company structure had been worked out and showed $58million to $60million of debt.

"It does show assets but we cannot tell you how much of those assets we can recover," Mr Meltzer said.

He said that before people sold their family homes or investments they should get independent financial advice.

Mr Meltzer also said the Minister of Commerce Lianne Dalziel, although not present at the meeting, was eager to receive updates on the state of the liquidation.

Outside the meeting, Olly Newland, who is representing some investors, said people were "on the bones of their backsides".

He said he was disappointed at the absence of Ms Dalziel and that a state manager should have been put in place and the whole company frozen.

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