Twelve people are $243,000 out of pocket because the man they trusted to invest their money does not know what happened to it, a court has heard.
Peter Jonatahn Rens, 73, faces 12 charges of a theft by a person in a special relationship. It is alleged he failed to account for the money he invested on behalf of others.
None of the 12 investors has seen a "penny" since handing Rens a cheque more than six years ago, the Napier District Court heard this morning.
In 2004 Rens joined the Hawke's Bay Gliding club and took gliding lessons. Over a beer, he explained how other gliding club members could make money on the financial markets.
After hearing about the good returns, Rens' gliding instructor gave him $11,000 to put on the share market.
By the next year, 12 people had given Rens $243,000 to invest on their behalf.
In 2006 the investors became "restless" and "worried" because they hadn't seen a "penny", Crown prosecutor Josh Lucas said.
They asked Rens where their money was, but communication was "sporadic" and some of Rens' emails did not make sense.
Rens began avoiding investors who asked for their money back, Mr Lucas said.
A few months later, Rens moved out of his Havelock North home and left Hawke's Bay without telling investors where he was going.
The investors went to the police about their missing funds. Mr Lucas said it took time for all of the investors to come forward with police charging Rens in 2010.
Rens told police the investments were still "locked" in overseas markets and he could not access the money.
"Till this day the investors don't know where their investments are," Mr Lucas said.
Rens' lawyer Bill Calver said his client was just as frustrated that he couldn't pay the monies owing.
Mr Calver said Rens unintentionally failed to account for the money because he had not been able to ascertain what happened to it.
"He is not a crook at all."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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