More than 800 shareholders in failed education provider Intueri finally have a chance to claw back some losses through a class action funded by LPF Group.
The proposed action, led by prominent Auckland lawyer Adina Thorn and barristers Neil Campbell QC and Zane Kennedy, targets the company's promoters and certain former directors and alleges they are responsible for misstatements and improper disclosure.
Intueri collapsed in June 2017, three years after floating on the NZX via an IPO at $2.35 a share that raised $177m from investors.
One former director, Dame Alison Paterson, is not being named in the claim as she came on to the Intueri board later.
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In April 2017 the Serious Fraud Office dropped an investigation into enrollments at Intueri's defunct Quantum Education Group, while its operations were also investigated by the Tertiary Education Commission.
A statement from Adina Thorn noted that Australian private equity firm Arowana International pocketed more than $100 million in the sharemarket float.
"I believe this proposed class action provides significant opportunity for the company's shareholders to be compensated for losses they have suffered in the hands of those responsible," Thorn said.
"No one need feel embarrassed about coming forward and I am pleased to confirm that the proposed class action has some institutional shareholder support."
Funding has been secured from litigation funder LPF Group, which is also funding the CBL class action, the Kiwifruit class action against the Ministry of Primary Industries, and the Mainzeal action.
LPF director Phil Newland said: "This is a meritorious case and we are pleased to be able to assist shareholders of Intueri to obtain compensation – people who would otherwise not be able to mount a lengthy and expensive legal fight to right a wrong."
Conor McElhinney, one of the Liquidators and a partner of McGrathNicol said he couldn't comment on the precise allegations in the claim, but at this stage there will not be any recovery to shareholders from the liquidation of Intueri and its related entities.
"This proposed class action is therefore currently the only option we are aware of for shareholders to recover anything from their investment".
This article originally included quotes from Adina Thorn making reference to Kevin Chin, CEO of Arowana International. The quote implied that Mr Chin was responsible for misstatements to potential investors in Intueri, and benefited personally from those misstatements. Based on information provided by Mr Chin, the New Zealand Herald now accepts that Ms Thorn's quote was not correct. We apologise to Mr Chin for the hurt caused.