Recovery of more Ross money unlikely

The receivers of suspected Ponzi scheme Ross Asset Management say a meeting with the company's sole director has left little prospect of significantly more money being found.

On Thursday John Fisk of PricewaterhouseCoopers met with David Ross, who, after being held in hospital for three weeks under the Mental Health Act, was released on Wednesday evening.

Fisk, whose first report warned of a shortfall of assets compared to investors' expectations of $440 million, said after quizzing Ross on the nature of his company's various entities, he saw little prospect of finding more than the $11m already established.

''Throughout that meeting Mr Ross was very co-operative and I think he answered the questions as fully as he could given the circumstances,'' Fisk told Radio New Zealand.

''What we took out of that meeting was that essentially what we had reported [in the first receivers' report] is likely to be the sort of levels that are going to be available in the receivership.''

The initial receivers' report identified about $10.2m in assets. On Thursday Fisk wrote to Ross' clients explaining that since then another $800,000 had been identified, although the nature of the assets meant what would ultimately be realised could well be lower.

''I must actually emphasise that even that [$11m] figure could be lower given the nature of the investments that were held, given that they're in companies that don't have high share turnover and generally of lower value, so the final recovery that we get in the receivership could be even less than the $11 million we reported''.

Investors had believed that almost $450m was being managed for them by Ross, which operated out of a small office in Morrison Kent House in central Wellington. Fisk said he did not believe that this amount of money ever existed. He has previously said that Ross had the ''characteristics'' of a Ponzi scheme but that more work would need to be done to establish whether fraud took place.

''I don't believe there was ever that amount of money.''

Fisk said on Monday PwC would go back to the High Court at Wellington with an update,  and would apply to have at least some of the Ross assets placed in liquidation.

Bruce Tichbon, spokesman for a large group of Ross investors, said on Thursday that news that David Ross would co-operate was heartening. Some investors had still been holding out hope that Ross had ''salted away assets somewhere, or something'' and that the man himself would at least give clarity one way or another.

''I wouldn't want people to have false hopes, but there are still steps in the process that have to be gone through.''

Contact Hamish Rutherford
Business reporter
Twitter: @oneforthedr

The Dominion Post