The mayor of Manawatū says she "won't be rolling out the welcome mat" to the country's biggest fraudster David Ross if he decides to move to the area.
On Monday, the NZ Parole Board released a statement saying Ross, formerly director of Ross Asset Management, who was convicted of running a ponzi scheme and owed investors $115 million when his company collapsed in 2012, will be released from prison in February, subject to him securing accommodation.
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Ross, through the Parole Board, said he intended to move to a "small town" and live off his pension, away from what the board has described as his former "cocktail circuit lifestyle".
Ross, formerly Wellington-based, was jailed in 2013 for 10 years and 10 months, with a minimum non-parole period of half that time. He pleaded guilty to charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Markets Authority.
The Parole Board on Monday said Ross, 69, had displayed "deep and sincere remorse" for his offending, and should be given the opportunity for treatment and counselling.
If released in February, Ross would have served just over six years behind bars.
Ross' offending affected mainly retirees, many who lost their retirement nest eggs when he lured investors and paid profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. Many were based in the Manawatū area, in the town of Feilding in particular.
Mayor of Manawatū Helen Worboys acknowledged that there were residents of the Manawatū community who would had fallen victim to Ross' offending.
"We won't be rolling out the welcome mat. There will no doubt be residents of our Manawatū community who's finances have been severely detrimentally affected by David Ross, as there will be in nearly every community throughout New Zealand," Worboys said.
"David Ross has to live somewhere however, and we will let the law run its course. We would also expect Ross and our citizens to all obey the law," she said.
The Herald has approached a number of mayors in other districts around the country to get their view on Ross potentially moving to the area.
Buller District Council mayor Jamie Cleine told the Herald that Ross would be welcome to the Reefton and wider Buller district if he "behaved himself" and "had the appropriate support around him".
"It's hard for people with a past such as his to assimilate into any small community, so that would be a barrier, just because everybody would instantly know who he was and what he had done. That's an issue for anyone with a criminal background that has been very publicly in the media."
Gisborne District Council mayor Rehette Stoltz and Kapiti Coast District Council mayor K Gurunathan had no comment to make when asked if Ross would be welcome to Gisborne or Kapiti following his release.
Timaru District Council mayor Nigel Bowen is yet to comment.
Ross Asset Management Investors group spokesperson Bruce Tichbon said he hoped Ross' apology is genuine.
"His remorse will help a little bit, but it won't bring closure to people who worked for 40 years to save up a retirement nest egg to have it stolen by this man," Tichbon told RNZ.
"The guy is really the most amazing liar and fraudster I think, but we have to accept that ultimately he has to be released, he has to be able to come back into the community again, we can't see that anyone will give him money to invest again in the future but that could potentially happen."