The Financial Markets Authority is reviewing its recruitment procedures after an analyst was charged with forging a glowing academic record to get his job and then stealing nearly $210,000 in a Ponzi-type scheme.
The FMA confirmed today that Anthony Kiro worked at the FMA from September 2014 until January 2015.
Kiro is alleged to have convinced women he met on online dating sites such as Tinder, or businessmen introduced to him by associates, to invest in companies soon to list on the stock exchange.
They trusted the 35-year-old because of his role as a senior adviser at the FMA and his impressive CV, which includes law and commerce degrees, as well as a master's degree in business administration from a prestigious business school in Australia. But police allege the funds given to him, ranging from $2000 to $120,000 from each of the six complainants, were never invested.
The FMA said today: "Like any responsible employer, we take our recruitment procedures seriously and are extremely disappointed and concerned by the alleged offending. We believe our recruitment procedures to be sensible and proportionate for an entity such as the FMA but will nonetheless be reviewing them in light of this situation."
Even more embarrassing for the FMA, which is responsible for policing the markets in New Zealand, is the allegation that Kiro forged his qualifications to get the job.
Court documents show that Kiro, a former professional league player in Sydney, is charged with forging his academic record at the Australian National University and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management to land the job at the authority.
"Working at the FMA gave him credibility and you would assume they would do some due diligence, some background checks, on the people who work there," said a businessman who "invested" $120,000 with Kiro.
The Auckland man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the returns on the investments offered by Kiro were "not off the planet; it wasn't too good to be true". He was introduced to Kiro by a trusted friend and the compliance paperwork looked legitimate.
"Three months later, it became clear the money wasn't coming."
When queried about the investment, Kiro supplied a Citibank statement showing $247,100 in the account. The police allege the document is false, the reason for one of the 11 theft or forgery charges laid in the Auckland District Court, where he will reappear in November.
The maximum penalty for using a false document is 10 years in prison.
"He's been charged with ripping me off, but you've got to ask, what is going on at the FMA?" said the businessman who eventually laid a complaint with the police. Another man and four women, at least one of whom met Kiro on Tinder, are listed as complainants in the charge sheets.
One of the women was having dinner in Ponsonby with friends, one of whom also recognised Kiro from his profile on the online dating site.
They ended up exchanging phone numbers and seeing each other socially over several months, before he convinced her to invest $2000 through him.
"He is charming, gregarious, good looking, well spoken, well dressed, clearly intelligent," said the woman. "I thought he was a really nice fellow until the police called me."
The Weekend Herald understands that Kiro, who was charged last week, left the FMA several months ago. He recently set up a management consultancy called Phoenix Orik.
Kiro was recommended to the FMA by Frog Recruitment. Director Jane Kennelly said the matter was being taken "extremely seriously".
"Our recruitment process exceeds industry standards and involves thorough checking and vetting, including identification checking, competency interviews, two verbal references and evidence of qualifications and academic transcripts, which in this instance, had been stamped and verified by a justice of the peace," she said.
Private investigator Danny Toresen said too many companies relied on the word of a recruitment agency that a prospective employee had been robustly vetted.
He was often hired to complete background checks on staff - after they had already been hired - and said employers should independently check the bona fides first.
"Or at least ask the recruitment agency to provide confirmation of someone's criminal history, or academic record," said Mr Toresen.
"Everything can be checked, you just need to ask the right questions. It's scary how senior some of these people can get."
Detective Gill Holland, of the Auckland City police fraud squad, said she expected to lay more charges against Kiro and encouraged anyone with any concerns to contact her.
The Parnell apartment given as Kiro's address on the court documents and in Companies Office records was last night being professionally cleaned as he had moved out.