NZF fined for late annual report

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 10:44 20/01/2014

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Listed financial services firm NZF Group has been publicly censured and ordered to pay $35,000 for failing to file its annual report on time.

The struggling company's 2013 report was due at the end of June last year, but its shares were placed in a trading halt until it finally filed the report in late November.

NZF blamed the delay on having to account for its 50 per cent share in Mike Pero Mortgages, which had since been divested after the balance date.

In a statement, the NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal said the reporting requirements were fundamental to the integrity of the market, and helped reduce the risk of insider trading.

"Any breach of these rules brings the market into disrepute."

A delay could unnerve investors and damage confidence in both the issuer's securities and in the market generally, he said.

The maximum fine for breaching the rules is $250,000, but the tribunal considered mitigating factors.

Those included that NZF gave the NZX an early warning that it would not meet the deadline, and provided guidance to the market - even though it failed to meet it.

Along with the $35,000 penalty, NZF has agreed to pay the tribunal's costs and contribute to the costs incurred by NZX.

NZF Group was frozen in 2012 after receivers of its failed finance company subsidiary, NZF Money, filed a claim against it.

The legal dispute was resolved early last year, when the company agreed to pay almost $1 million to settle the claim.

NZF Money collapsed in July 2011 owing debenture holders $16.4m.

The Serious Fraud Office has closed its investigation into the finance company, citing a lack of evidence to prosecute, but referred the matter to the Financial Markets Authority for further inquiry.

NZF shares were recently trading at 1 cent each.

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- Fairfax Media

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