Accused 'perplexed' at loss

A man who "lost" $243,000 of investors' money did not intend to "hoodwink" his friends, a court has heard.

Peter Jonathan Rens, 73, faces 12 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.

It is alleged he failed to account for the money he invested on behalf of others.

In 2004, Rens told other Hawke's Bay Gliding club members how they could make money on the financial markets.

After hearing about the good returns, Rens' gliding instructor gave him $11,000 to put on the sharemarket. By the next year, 12 people had given Rens $243,000 to invest on their behalf.

Rens left Hawke's Bay in 2007, when investors started asking where their money was, the Napier District Court heard. These investors had not seen a cent since.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said Rens deliberately hoodwinked people he knew were not "business savvy" and made a multitude of excuses about the missing money.

Rens told some investors that their money was "frozen" in American trading companies and others that trading was being held up because the lawyers and accountants he used in Uruguay were closed during the holiday season.

Mr Manning said that, instead, investors' money was flowing into Rens' bank account.

Rens also forged a document stating that the investment had grown to $1 million, to keep investors happy, Mr Manning said.

Rens' lawyer, Bill Calver, said that if Rens was capable of forging such a sophisticated document, why had he not forged others?

Mr Calver said it was a "real possibility" that Rens, too, had been a victim of fraud.

It was also just as likely that Rens had lost the money in his "overcomplicated" trading structure.

Rens never set out to hoodwink investors, he said. "Rens has been genuinely, completely, perplexed and at a loss to explain where the money went."

Judge Geoff Rea will sum up today.

Contact Tracey Chatterton
Hawke's Bay reporter
Twitter: @trackchatt

The Dominion Post