Son fights on for cash from estate

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 13/06/2013
Peter Turnhout
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
GOING PUBLIC: Peter Turnhout takes his battle with Guardian Trust to its Trafalgar Street office.

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Nelson man Peter Turnhout, frustrated at not receiving money from his father's estate, has made a public protest outside the Trafalgar St branch of Guardian Trust.

Mr Turnhout, a street sweeper, said he and his three brothers had been trying to withdraw money owed in connection with their father Theo's estate for nearly five years. Two of the brothers had "given up", but Mr Turnhout said he felt compelled to fight for his share and that of the youngest brother.

"It's just going on and on. How long does a man have to wait?"

Mr Turnhout said when his father died in July 2008, Guardian Trust took over his estate. He was not certain how they invested the funds, but understood $10,000 was now frozen by the trust.

The last time he approached Guardian Trust to extract the funds, the company asked him to fill in a hardship form and give them his bank account number, but Mr Turnhout said this was not the issue.

"It's got nothing to do with them what's in my bank account, the money doesn't belong to them.

"The funny thing is, they're saying ‘If you fill in a hardship fund we'll help you', but why don't they just help me?"

Guardian Trust general manager of personal client services Philip Morgan-Rees said the fund in question was known as the Guardian CashPlus Mortgage Units Fund, made up of an investment in a mortgage fund which itself invested in mortgages spread over a variety of properties.

Investments in and withdrawals from the fund were suspended in 2008 during the global financial crisis. The reasoning behind suspending the fund was to ensure Guardian Trust treated all withdrawals equally and didn't pay out withdrawals by any one investor to the detriment of others.

Mr Turnhout's holding is protected against any loss of capital.

Mr Morgan-Rees said Guardian Trust understood Mr Turnhout's frustration at not receiving all his money earlier, but because the fund was suspended, removing Mr Turnhout's holding before the fund could be fully wound down would not be possible as it would negatively affect the investments of around 5000 other investors.

In order to close the fund properly, Guardian Trust must either complete the sale of the loans owned by the fund or sell the properties connected to the loans. This had been a time-consuming process, Mr Morgan-Rees said.

"Typically, mortgages are not very liquid."

He said Mr Turnhout and his father had jointly received 84.75 per cent of the original investment back since the fund was suspended, referring to the final balance as a "residual amount" which would be paid on final wind up of the fund.

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He said the hardship form was directed at investors in financial distress, who could apply to have money released under certain restricted circumstances.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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