A Porirua financial firm offering "secured high risk return investments" with interest rates of 16 per cent has gone under with the liquidator alleging claimed investments don't appear to exist.
The Herald understands investors with Options Trading and Investments NZ Limited became concerned when payments began being missed and, after checking with the Financial Markets Authority, discovering neither the director nor his company was registered to provide financial advice or services.
Waterstone Insolvency's Damien Grant was appointed to the company last month by the High Court in Auckland and their first report said they did not have much to work with.
"Investors were induced to place money with the company to have their funds managed. Our initial investigations indicate that this may not have happened. To date, we have not been able to find any assets, cash, or funds under management by the company," the report said.
Grant told the Herald they had received no response from the company's director and shareholder Tiavare Richard Curtis Joseph, a process complicated by the level 3 lockdown in Auckland preventing Waterstone staff travelling to Porirua to visit in person.
Grant said while more work was needed to trace payments through bank accounts, it appeared the firm had dozens of investors with "losses in the low millions".
He anticipated referring the matter to the Serious Fraud Office once he had a clearer picture of what had happened. "We'll give the SFO a bit of background ... in a month."
Investors spoken to by the Herald said the scheme was run with a striking lack of paperwork and in recent months Joseph had promised to repay all investors.
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One investor was promised their $82,868 investment would attract 16 per cent returns as a "secured high risk return investment".
Joseph did not respond to Herald calls, emails or social media messages.
Joseph also directs and operates construction company Kainga Ora and appears to have been more commonly known in the community as Richard or Ritchie Wineera.
In 2017 he secured a board role on high-profile local charity the Porirua Whanau Centre, with his appointment praised by fellow board members as adding financial and construction expertise.