Failed energy firm director missing

Last updated 05:00 04/02/2014

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The director of a collapsed energy firm that described its strategy as "like turning straw into gold" is the subject of a formal complaint by the company's liquidator.

Simon Romana, the director of Ira NRG, has been unable to be contacted by liquidator Clive Johnson.

In Johnson's first report into the company in 2011 he said the company operated a commission-based share-sales scheme in which investors were offered one million shares for $1000, with the option of paying in 50 weekly instalments.

According to the Companies Office, more than 230 share parcels were allocated.

The company claimed to be in possession of closely guarded gasification technology that would convert waste biomass into energy.

Copies of Ira NRG's promotional materials show Romana claimed that the company would soon generate $2.7 billion in annual revenues and employ 5000 people.

In 2010 the Securities Commission issued a warning about Ira NRG, saying its share offer was illegal as no prospectus had been prepared.

Johnson was appointed liquidator soon after the Securities Commission warning.

Johnson's latest report, released last week, said the liquidation would soon conclude.

No assets had been recovered and Romana could not be found.

"Due to the unsatisfactory conduct of the director the liquidator will be requesting the registrar of companies to take action against him," Johnson said in his report.

Copies of the company's bank statements show funds from investors were intermingled and used for both company and personal expenses.

In 1997 the Southland Times reported that Romana, then the chief executive of the Uenuku Maori Authority in Invercargill, had a criminal record dating back to the 1970s involving fraud and assault.

It quoted Romana saying the convictions were the result of schizophrenia, but his illness was now controlled by medication.

In 2006, an article in The Listener described Romana's activities in Canada and the US selling a scheme to create energy from a "gasifier" through his company First NRG.

It told a story of overblown claims and doubts about Romana's credibility. 

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- BusinessDay

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