A Queen St forex broker whose business collapsed leaving clients - mostly used-car importers - owed $13 million, has entered no plea to fraud charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

Russell Maher, 52, appeared at the Auckland District Court today charged with 47 counts of using forged documents.

The charges relate to Forex Brokers Limited (FBL), through which the defendant provided foreign exchange services. The maximum penalty for each charge is 10 years' imprisonment.

The SFO alleges Maher provided clients with forged documents that deliberately misrepresented the status of the transactions he was meant to carry out. He is believed to have used forged documents to disguise that FBL was in financial difficulty.


Maher was remanded on bail to reappear at the Auckland District Court on 23 July.

A liquidators report for Forex Brokers, prepared by Christopher McCullagh and Stephen Lawrence of PKF, claimed Maher, the company's sole director, had breached his duties under the Companies Act by continuing to trade for four years while incurring "significant losses".

Liquidators said this meant they considered Maher was personally liable for some debts of the company and had served him a demand for $4m, but recovery was unlikely.

"Maher responded advising that he did not have the means to settle the demand and therefore intended to declare himself as bankrupt shortly."

He was declared bankrupt in November.

Maher had earlier told liquidators he blamed the failure on "too many 'out of money' contracts", and competition that forced him to adopt an overly-large position.

"I had tried to devise a plan to start returning investor funds and start scaling back the company until I could close it down, but I ran out of time and cash flow," Maher said.

The website for Forex Brokers, founded in 1995, claimed Maher had "over 20 years experience in the foreign currency industry" and "an extremely high level of business integrity and customer service".


Several of the company's clients have told the Herald payment delays with the company seemed to accelerate from late 2016, and Maher had also offered high-risk foreign exchange investment services.

McCullagh and Lawrence were appointed in April 2018.