The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into Gisborne finance company Rockforte Finance.

Rockforte was placed in receivership in May this year, owing $3,250,000 to 77 investors.

General Manager, financial Markets and corporate fraud at the Serious Fraud Office, Simon McArley said the company had sufficient evidence to believe that a crime of serious or complex fraud may have been committed.

The investigation, which began on Monday, was prompted from an enquiry to the receiver, Dennis Parsons, by the Serious Fraud Office.

Rockforte provided financial and lending services and was a participant in the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

The majority of investors were covered by that scheme.

SFO chief executive Adam Feeley said that while the investigation was smaller than other cases recently taken on by the office, the it had regional significance.

Rockforte issued debt securities to the public and used the proceeds to make loans secured mainly over imported second hand motor vehicles.

It is the seventeenth finance that has been investigated by the SFO since 2007.

Nine of those investigations are ongoing and, to date, five have resulted in criminal charges.

The Securities Commission and the National Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Economic Development are also looking at matters relating to the company.

Feeley said the SFO would be working closely with those agencies to ensure the investigation was completed in a timely manner.