The Financial Markets Authority is investigating a Christchurch company called Arena Capital, trading as foreign exchange services provider BlackfortFX, saying it is concerned investor funds may be at risk.

Arena Capital is registered at an address in a residential street in Spreydon, Christchurch.

Its shareholder and sole director is Jimmie McNicholl, according to the Companies Office.

BlackfortFX's website gives is address as the Vero Centre building in Auckland, although McNicholl wasn't immediately available.

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He featured in a Te Puni Kokiri publication, Kokiri (Celebrating Maori Achievement) in 2009, in relation to a company selling burglar alarm systems.

McNicholl's director consent form lodged with the Companies Office was completed by Lance Jack Ryan.

In 2005, Ryan, also known as Lance Jared Thompson, stole the identities of five dead people to claim welfare payments and was convicted of 63 charges that included fraud and breaches of the insolvency and companies legislation.

Ryan is currently listed as director of two companies in liquidation, Q Technology and Hygeine Foundation, according to the Companies Office website. Thompson is director of Whakapai Holdings, which is also in liquidation.

The FMA said it has obtained from the courts an asset preservation order over the assets of Arena/Blackfort and associated persons.

"Arena is registered on the Financial Service Providers Register and purports to offer foreign exchange services to clients," the FMA said in a statement. "

The FMA is concerned that Arena may be operating in breach of financial markets legislation. We cannot comment further at this stage to protect the integrity of the investigation."

Earlier this week, the FMA said it was looking into the veracity of companies registered on the Financial Services Providers Register, saying that it was aware of foreign firms signing up on the register to give the appearance of being a well-regulated New Zealand business while mainly operating overseas. The regulator said it has removed 23 entities from the FSPR so far this year and prevented a further 20 from completing registration. The register is maintained by the Registrar of Companies but the FMA has the power to direct the registrar to remove companies "where it is likely that a company is giving a false or misleading impression about the extent to which it is regulated in New Zealand," the FMA said.

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The FMA said it has received complaints from overseas investors who had lost money in forex companies and other service providers operating abroad with FSPR registration.