Court extends asset-freezing orders

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
david ross
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

LIQUIDATOR APPOINTED: David Ross was not in court to see Ross Asset Management put into liquidation.

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An order freezing the assets of suspected Ponzi scheme operator David Ross will continue until February, as he moves to sell goods to cover his household bills.

Ross Asset Management was placed in receivership in early November, and there is a shortfall of about $439 million between the combined balances of client accounts and its proven assets.

The High Court in Wellington yesterday granted an extension to the asset-freezing orders obtained by the Financial Markets Authority, until at least February 4.

On Monday the court will hear an applications from receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers to place the company and a number of related entities into liquidation.

Meanwhile plans to sell goods to pay legal bills and cover living expenses continue.

The court has given Ross $1000 a week to live on, but wife Jillian is seeking compensation for costs she has personally incurred on top of this.

Visitors to the Ross' $2.2 million home in Lower Hutt on Friday included representatives of Page Blackie, an upmarket art dealer based on Wellington's Victoria St. Staff at Page Blackie declined to make any comment yesterday.

Ross' lawyer, Gary Turkington, said there were moves to sell some of the couple's jointly owned chattels, all done in consultation with receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"Nothing is being sold under the counter, so to speak," Turkington said.

"The important thing is investors' money is not being employed for legal fees. Anything will come out of joint stuff, or Mrs Ross' resources, such as they may be."

PwC partner John Fisk confirmed negotiations were under way about selling household goods.

"There are costs that need to be met and he's given us some pro- posals for sale of some of his assets and we're wanting to see the details of those proposals."

Mr Fisk said he had no power over Mrs Ross' assets.

"Any of her own personal assets are none of our business really."

Investors have expressed anger that Ross is even getting $1000 a week.

Bruce Tichbon, spokesman for a group representing more than half of the Ross Asset Management investors, said in recent days he had been emailed by a couple who had given Mr Ross $500,000 just a few weeks before the company's collapse.

During the meeting Ross gave a lengthy account of where he would invest the money.

Tichbon said people had been made destitute by investing with Ross and were living on benefits.

"They are infuriated that the courts are giving him $1000 a week to live on. They're living on half that."

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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