Eight firms targeted over late filing

MATT NIPPERT
Last updated 17:20 03/07/2014

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The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has charged the directors of eight companies, including Applefields, with making late financial returns.

Collectively the businesses have raised tens of millions of dollars from the public.

FMA director of enforcement and investigations Belinda Moffat said the eight firms had been targeted due to their size and persistent failures.

"FMA decided on court action because these entities had persistently failed to file and presented the greatest harm to the market," Moffat said.

"This is determined either in terms of the number of investors, the amount of money involved in the companies, or an apparent disregard for the importance of ensuring that this important information is available."

The charges have been laid under the Financial Reporting Act and conviction carries a maximum penalty of a $100,000.

Justin Prain and Mark Shroder, the directors of Applefields, have both pleaded not guilty to six charges and appear in court again later this month. Shares were sold to the public in Applefields, originally an orchardist, more recently a property developer.

Ross Collins, the director of Prosper Hills (2006), Prosper Hills (2008) and NZFIL 3, has pleaded guilty to eight charges and will be sentenced on July 10. Collins' companies offer share investments in forestry plantations.

Thomas Jones and Hayden Jones, the directors of Heritage Park Taupo and Prudential Real Estate Investments, have not yet entered a plea to eight charges and their next court date is on July 25.

Heritage Park became a vehicle for contributory mortgage holders to take over a residential development in Taupo that had fallen into default. Prudential Real Estate investments reportedly offered investors a 15 per cent "projected cash return" on a bare-land development near Taupo in January 2009.

Murray Alcock and Alister Knight, directors of SPI Capital and SPI Property, have not yet entered a plea on eight charges. SPI reportedly have tens of millions of dollars of investor funds tied up in property syndicates structured as proportionate ownership schemes.

"Filing financial statements on time is a basic requirement for companies that issue securities to the public and failure to comply has serious consequences," Moffat said.

The eight companies were far from the only non-compliance firms found by the regulator, which conducted a review and found only patchy compliance with more than a quarter of companies failing to meet filing deadlines.

Of 416 limited liability companies, 305 made the statutory deadline for March 31, 2013, balance dates, the FMA said.

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Even following reminder notices being sent, 43 still had outstanding filings in November 2013.

- Stuff

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