The man behind New Zealand's largest Ponzi scheme has been denied parole, while authorities have also raised concerns about a potentially concealed fund waiting for him upon his release.

Wellington financier and former head of the Ross Asset Management (RAM) David Ross was jailed for 10 years and 10 months in November 2013.

He had defrauded more than 700 clients of $115.5 million.

The now 68-year-old pleaded guilty to eight charges, brought by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Management Authority, for his elaborate scheme which ran from 2000 to 2012.


When he was sentenced the judge said Ross' crimes were "on a scale unprecedented in this country".

"What you have done has brought misery on hundreds of people, most ruined financially, many elderly and frail, and many suffering far more than simply monetary losses, which are bad enough anyway."

Today, the Parole Board released its decision declining to release Ross from prison after his first hearing before them last Wednesday.

Ross had first appeared before the Parole Board on February 22, but his release was not sought then because a rental property which had been arranged for Ross to live in had yet to be assessed by authorities.

David Ross in the dock during a court appearance in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
David Ross in the dock during a court appearance in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Michael Kilbride, who appeared as counsel for Ross at last Wednesday's hearing, argued the fraudster had a low risk of further offending.

He also asserted an absence of any future opportunity for offending because of the cumulative effect of Ross' notoriety and disqualification from any involvement in the financial industry.

Ross, who is at Rimutaka Prison, told the Parole Board himself that he is a broken and flawed man, he is shunned, and has no reputation to speak of.

He said, rather than reoffend in any way, he simply wants to prepare for his retirement and rebuild his family relationships.


The Parole Board's decision said Ross' approach to the hearing and the prospect of parole, however, was coloured by his concern of a several civil claims awaiting him upon his release.

A psychologist also recommended encouraging Ross to provide an account of his crimes to assess if he takes full responsibility for his offending.

But Ross provided at best a partial explanation for his offending, the decision reads.

"He told the board that in 2006 an unintended computer error mistakenly but innocently overstated the value of some parts of some of his clients' portfolios.

"He said that when he became aware of this error, and rather than admit it, he thought he could 'manage' his way through so as to correct the error without the necessity of disclosure, either to the clients directly involved or indeed to the appropriate regulatory bodies."

Ross also explained that his dishonest attempt to manage and correct the error was compounded over the months and years which followed.

"Mr Ross maintained to the board that the offending prior to 2006, as identified both by the charges to which he pleaded guilty, and as identified and described by the sentencing judge was in fact not of any real substance.

"When specifically asked, he denied the existence of any concealed fund to which he might have access following his release from prison, despite the scale, complexity, duration and effect of the offending."

David Ross stole $115.5 million from more than 700 clients. Photo / Mark Mitchell
David Ross stole $115.5 million from more than 700 clients. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The psychologist's assessment of Ross was he "appeared able to deceive without apparent anxiety, maintained by the misguided and grandiose belief in his own abilities".

The Parole Board said low risk is not undue risk and the proposed parole conditions were insufficient to manage Ross' threat to the safety of the community whilst on parole.

"There is no sure foundation upon which the board could conclude that the same factors which enabled Mr Ross to lie, deceive and steal so comprehensively and for so long, throughout his years of offending, are not still present to an undue level.

"Mr Ross' proven ability to identify further victims and deceive them essentially remains unchanged."

Ross will be seen by the Parole Board again in 12 months.

After the decision was released, Bruce Tichbon, a spokesman for the Ross Asset Management Investors Group, said the victims of the scheme are relieved.

"We are delighted that the community will be protected for 12 more months from Ross, whose ability to lie and deceive is unprecedented.

"Ross was able to steal from people who were sick, elderly or bereaved, without showing the smallest emotion.

"We are grateful also that the Government has recognised that the liquidation process failed to recover all the stolen money and redistribute it fairly to all investors. We trust the government will go through with law changes to ensure the victims of fraud are better protected in future."