A Nelson businessman who lost $4 million in a failed quest to open a gold-mine in Colombia has been banned from managing a company for a record 10 years.
Robert James Cottle was subject to the decade-long prohibition following a ruling by the Registrar of Companies that he was at least partly responsible for the collapse of his Infratech companies, a statement from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said.
After initially telling the Weekend Herald he intended to appeal the record ban, which he said resulted from him not contesting the case, Cottle reconsidered and said he would accept the prohibition.
"I'm not a crook, in any way, shape or form. I'm retired now anyway, so I don't really care about it," he said. The ban expires in late 2026 when Cottle will be 76.
Cottle founded Infratech days after emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. Pitch documents obtained by the Weekend Herald had Cottle claim the venture would produce returns of up to 1000 per cent by exploiting what he claimed were lucrative mining rights in South America.
The mining venture never generated a flake of gold, and a Herald investigation found he had lost hundreds of thousands of investors dollars to several different scammers who promised him tens of millions of dollars in capital to build his mine.
The Financial Markets Authority issued a public warning about Infratech in 2014 drawing attention to "consistent statements" made by Cottle about his "purported ownership of mining licences".
In a High Court decision liquidating Infratech in 2015, Associate judge John Matthews said Cottle was asked about his claimed mining rights.
"When pressed on how this asset has any actual value, or could be realised, Mr Cottle was without explanation," the decision said.
Prior to his pursuit of precious metals in South America, Cottle had - according to an Employment Relations Authority decision dating from 2005 - claimed to have contracts from the Estonian government to manufacture railway sleepers.
And after Infratech collapsed Cottle had sought to use another company, Sceptre Minerals, to raise US$500,000 ($723,400) selling what he called "low risk" gold options advertised as allowing investors to double their money in a year.