An Auckland businessman who gained notoriety after his $400,000 Lamborghini was towed because he misused a disabled parking spot has had the luxury car repossessed and sold over unpaid debts.
Gerard Peters, 30, hit headlines in 2015 after his $400,000 Lamborghini was photographed in a disabled parking spot at West Auckland shopping complex LynnMall.
While Peters was able to pay that $400 parking fine and reclaim his vehicle, more recent - and substantial - debts have seen that Lamborghini and five other luxury cars he owned seized and sold to satisfy short-changed creditors.
PWC's John Fisk and Malcolm Hollis were appointed as receivers to Peters' companies Peters Property Holdings and BP Investment Holdings, and to Peters personally, in May over a $957,000 debt owed to Gold Band Finance. The receivership was partially terminated in December 2020.
The cars pledged as security for the loan represented an eye-popping fleet of luxury and high-performance vehicles including a 2013 Lamborghini Aventador; 2017 Ferrari California T; 2013 Rolls-Royce Wraith; 2014 Ford Ranger; 2011 Jaguar X and a 2017 Porsche Cayenne.
Hollis told the Herald the car sales had satisfied only about half the amount owed to Gold Band - with the Lamborghini having expensive problems with its gearbox - and the receivers' final moves to secure repayment had seen the remaining debt now lodged as a second mortgage over a multimillion-dollar property in Waiwera.
Receivers reports said this property, described in real estate marketing as an "opulent" 315sq m home on 31,000sq m of cliff-top land and acquired by Peters in 2016 for $2.3 million, was subject to a first mortgage from BNZ totalling $2.3m.
Hollis said he and his PWC partner had been unable to communicate directly with Peters, who was now understood to be based overseas, either in Malaysia or the United States.
Peters was repeatedly approached for comment over the past month by the Herald. He declined to respond directly to questions raised and instead instructed law firm Lee Salmon Long (LSL) to send a series of legal letters to Herald publisher NZME.
Four weeks after first being asked questions, a statement provided by LSL partner David Nilsson finally addressed some issues raised.
Peters described the dispute with Gold Band as a "private" matter complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said he had "concerns relating to the conduct of the receivership, which was partially terminated in December 2020, and the sale of assets during his absence from the country".
Peters pledged to return to New Zealand when able.
"New Zealand is his home," Nilsson's statement said.
It failed to answer questions about where in the world Peters was residing at present.
Receiver Hollis said, more than six months into the receivership, he was unsure of what line of work Peters was involved in. "I can't actually work out, other than owning nice cars and nice property, what his business actually was," Hollis claimed.
Peters has had a varied career to date and has variously been described over the past decade as an IT professional, car-importer, and property developer. In the 2020 electoral roll he lists his occupation as "student".
He fronted the launch of short-lived TradeMe clone Geta 2012, and in 2017 was part of an unsuccessful bid to acquire a block of parkland listed for sale by the Hibiscus Coast Community Returned and Services Association.
More recently Peters described himself in his LinkedIn profile as a "quantitative strategist" experienced in "artificial intelligence", heading the QuantifAI Group where Peters was described as founder and chief executive.
Nilsson's statement said Peters worked as an offshore consultant, but QuantifAI was "now his primary business".
QuantifAI described itself online as "specialising in algorithmic trading and quantitative strategies in the currency markets" and claimed its products generated annual returns of between 60 and 190 per cent over the past four years.
This month a tool on QuantifAI's website forecast an investment of US$50m ($69.17m) would see returns of 83 per cent in less than a year.
The statement from Nilsson said QuantifAI was "a proprietary financial technology, or fintech, product allowing algorithmic trading" and "is designed for and available to sophisticated institutional investors only, and is not currently available in New Zealand".
Nilsson's statement stood by claims on the company's website: "The product has been peer reviewed and has a proven track record based on returns achieved by those institutional investors who have used. [sic]
"It does not receive or manage its clients' investment capital in any way, and is instead limited to licensing the use of the fintech product to institutional investment clients to use to conduct their own investments," Nilsson said.
A company of that name, directed and owned by Peters, was removed from the New Zealand Companies Register in September 2020. The company's website said it was headquartered in Australia and subject to oversight by the "Australian Securities and Investments Committee [sic]".
A spokesperson for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said: "I've searched QuantifAI Group in our registers and nothing came back."
Recent job advertisements for the company were for roles based in Malaysia.
Nilsson's statement would only confirm that QuantifAI was not an entity incorporated in New Zealand.
Questions to the corporate email address of QuantifAI went unanswered, and early this month, after the Weekend Herald approached Peters for comment, the company's website - and Peters' LinkedIn profile - were taken offline. An archive can be found here.
Nilsson's statement said this online scrubbing was "in response to a security concern after a person other than an institutional investor had sought to gain access to it".