The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into financial adviser and former newspaper columnist Andrew Hrothgar Robinson.
It was reported last month that the Financial Markets Authority was investigating Englishman Robinson, a columnist for the Sunday Star-Times from early 2003 to early 2004, following complaints from clients who were worried about their money.
Robinson, 39, is one of three shareholders, and is a former director, of Auckland-based Strategic Planning Group Limited.
Acting chief executive of the SFO, Simon McArley, said the SFO had been requested to investigate by the FMA.
McArley said evaluation of the information now available has led to the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe ten offence of serious fraud may have been committed in relation to investment funds received by Robinson.
Robinson, who came to New Zealand around 12 years' ago, became the second Authorised Financial Adviser to lose his AFA status late last year. The first to do so was suspected ponzi-scheme operator David Ross.
Robinson's AFA status was cancelled on 21 December, just weeks after it had been granted on 20 November. That prompted questions about the effectiveness of the AFA licensing regime, brought in to lift competence among advisers and only allow those with the right skills and character to advise the general public on investment.
The FMA opened an investigation into Robinson late last year following concerns by his clients about their money and the whereabouts of Robinson.
McArley said, "We will continue to work closely with the FMA to ensure both agencies' resources are applied effectively in a coordinated and timely manner.
The SFO also asked for people with knowledge of Robinson's activities to come forward with information, and contact its investigators on 0800 109 800, or through the website www.sfo.govt.nz