A Supreme Court ruling out today will make liquidators' attempts to claw back funds from Ross Asset Management investors much more difficult, says a lawyer.
The country's highest court this morning released a ruling that curtails how liquidators can try recover payments from those who received funds up to two years before a company's collapse.
A lawyer for some of the liquidators involved in the Supreme Court case, Kevin Bond, said the decision could have an impact on the Ross Asset Management claw-back litigation.
Wellington-based Ross Asset Management cost investors around $115 million when it folded in November 2012.
Investors are likely to get only a fraction of this money back.
Its principal, David Ross, ran the country's largest ever Ponzi scheme and was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months' jail in 2013 after admitting fraud and other charges.
The firm's liquidators, John Fisk and David Bridgman, have taken High Court action against three investors who received a payout before the collapse in an attempt to claw back money.
The first of these test cases, where millions of dollars are believed to be at stake, is due to be heard in Wellington next month.
"In the case of Ross Asset Management, the liquidators have already signalled their intention to utilise the insolvent transaction regime to claw back payments from investors, who received what ultimately turned out to be fictitious profits in the months before Mr Ross' Ponzi scheme came to light," Bond said.
"This decision will make that process much more difficult for the liquidators," he said.
"It is likely that a substantial number of preferential payments, which would previously have been set aside, will now be retained by preferred creditors. Further, directors of insolvent companies may now actually be encouraged to make such payments to those creditors who have leverage over them personally," he said.