Chances of recovering Ross funds played down

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2012

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The man charged with untangling Ross Asset Management is dampening expectations about the prospects of clawing back funds from clients who withdrew their investments before the suspected Ponzi scheme collapsed.

John Fisk, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was yesterday appointed liquidator of Ross, a low-profile fund manager previously based in The Terrace in Wellington.

Ross Asset Management was raided by the Financial Markets Authority in late October as investors claimed they could not get their money. Of the almost $450 million clients believed was being managed for them, only about $11.5m has been recovered.

Reports suggested the liquidator may go after clients who had collectively withdrawn tens of millions from Ross in recent years. Funds would be returned to those who were still investors.

But Fisk said this was in an area of the law which was uncertain, and had to be balanced against the possible cost of taking action. "It would be premature to assume anything at this stage in regards to third party recoveries," he said yesterday, adding that the decision to take action against former clients would be a balance of costs against benefits.

"The last thing we want is for investors to get ahead of themselves by incurring additional legal costs or expecting great recoveries from this source," he said.

For anyone who could satisfy the liquidators they had withdrawn money in good faith, "there may be a defence available", Fisk said.

However, if there were investors who were aware of Ross's problems before its failure and had withdrawn money - which Fisk said he had heard rumours of, but had not seen evidence - then liquidators might attempt to claw back money.

PwC wasnamed sole liquidator of Ross and related firms.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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