A dispute over the ownership of hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold and silver firm found in the safe of collapsed Queen Street firm Forex Brokers is heading to the High Court.

Liquidators believe that the firm, which failed last April and owes creditors $13m, had been insolvent for at least four years prior to its collapse due at least in part to speculative foreign exchange trading.

The Serious Fraud Office has been investigating the company, and its sole director and shareholder Russell Maher, since June.

Liquidators Christopher McCullagh and Stephen Lawrence said in their third report released this morning that they had recovered a "quantity of gold and silver bullion" from the company's premises, but ownership of it had been claimed by an unnamed third party.

Advertisement

It is understood the precious metals - worth hundreds of thousands of dollars - were found inside a locked safe in the company's office.

Liquidators said this third party had provided insufficient evidence to establish ownership, and am application had been made to the High Court in Auckland to resolve the dispute.

McCullagh and Lawrence said a review of the company's books had found long-running problems.

"In our view the Company has been insolvent since at least 1 April 2013. We have established that during the past four years prior to liquidation the Company has been incurring significant losses," liquidators said.

"We believe that these losses were due to inefficient business arrangements, insufficient profit margins, speculative foreign exchange trading and payment of business expenses."

The reports notes 96 unsecured creditors were claiming $12.8m, but with the poor state of the company's finances they did "not anticipate there will be sufficient funds recovered to make a distribution of significant value".

A large number of Forex Brokers were importers - particularly motor-vehicle traders - who relied on the company to pay overseas suppliers. The collapse left many hundreds of thousands of dollars short.