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Current as at 9 July 2018



9 July 2018

A two day defended hearing of the liquidation application is currently scheduled for 26-27 November 2018 at the Nelson High Court.

This hearing will consider the FMA’s application to place Forestlands 2-20 into liquidation.

23 April 2018

FMA has applied to the High Court to place the Forestlands companies numbered 2-20 into liquidation.

The application for liquidation has been filed at the Nelson Registry of the High Court. An initial hearing will take place on April 26 at 11am. As required in liquidation proceedings, advertisements have today been placed in the Gazette and will also appear in the local newspaper, the Nelson Mail.

The application does not cover Forestlands NZ Limited and Forestlands Marketing who are also in the Forestlands group of companies. These companies are not financial markets participants.

Shareholders and Creditors are entitled to a copy of the affidavit setting out the FMA’s case in seeking the liquidation of these companies. This can be obtained in the following manner: please refer to the media release

Ongoing investigations

The FMA and Serious Fraud Office maintain separate ongoing investigations into Forestlands.

20 October 2017

The $18 million of investors’ funds is still held in trust and accruing interest, it cannot be released without a court order or the consent of the FMA. We continue to hold the view that it is the director’s responsibility to determine an appropriate methodology for a distribution.
We are aware that this process is complex and will take time to complete.
The FMA has continued to engage with the Forestlands director’s representatives and sought regular updates from them.

Questions have been raised about an automated notice from Companies Office stating an intention to remove the various Forestlands companies from the companies register. Companies Office has now confirmed that the director has filed annual returns for each of the ‘numbered’ Forestlands Companies. This operates as a complete stop on the Registrar’s intention to remove those companies, the Companies Office register no longer refers to them being under intended removal.
We have also reminded Mr Kearns, through his lawyers, of the companies’ obligation to maintain share registers and have them available to be inspected.

The Forestlands companies remain under investigation by the FMA and the SFO at this time.

7 August 2017

We have received queries about the sale price of the forests. The Overseas Investment Office has recently published the sale price received by Forestlands. This information is now available on the OIO website which references a sale price of $23,500,000.

Regarding the distribution of funds, as we have previously stated the responsibility for determining a process to allocate funds among the companies or investors remains with the Forestlands companies and their director. The FMA has been informed that the director has instructed third party experts, including Korda Mentha, with a view towards advising on distributions to shareholders of the Forestlands companies.

We cannot comment on other matters that are currently the subject of ongoing inquiries by the SFO or the FMA.
We will update investors when there is further information available.

30 June 2017

The FMA has previously notified that during its initial inquiries into Forestlands it identified $18 million which Forestlands said was to be paid to investors. We note that investors, who are shareholders in the Forestlands companies, had expressed concerns about Forestlands, how the assets were sold and how they would receive their share of the proceeds.

The FMA decided that the $18 million should be placed in trust to protect and preserve these funds and investors’ interests. It is not the FMA’s role to determine the process for allocating funds among companies or investors; that responsibility remains with the Forestlands companies and their director. The FMA remains concerned that the Forestlands companies do not have an appropriate method in place to distribute the proceeds from the sale of the Forestlands group’s forestry assets.

The absence of an appropriate distribution method prejudices the rights of all the Forestlands investors. We understand that the Forestlands companies have now instructed an independent professional services firm to assist with developing that method.  Any suggestion that the FMA is preventing the appropriate distribution of funds to investors in the Forestlands companies is inaccurate. As soon as an appropriate distribution method has been established, the FMA will decide whether to consent to the release of funds currently held on trust.

27 June 2017

The FMA has received a number of requests for further information about the Forestlands group of companies from shareholders in recent weeks. 

The FMA continues to seek to engage with the sole director of the Forestlands group and his legal representatives to ascertain what steps have been taken to put in place an appropriate process for determining and managing the distribution of the $18 million that is held on trust, accruing interest. The funds cannot be dispersed other than in accordance with a court order or with the approval of the FMA.

The FMA cannot determine or oversee how the funds should be distributed to individual investors - that remains the legal responsibility of the group of companies and their director. The funds will remain in trust pending the FMA’s inquiries in this regard.

1 May 2017

We have referred some matters to the Serious Fraud Office. We will continue to complete our inquiries in relation to financial markets issues.

During our inquiries we identified funds worth $18 million, and in agreement with Forestlands, these funds were placed in trust. This money remains in trust, earning interest.

This decision to place these funds in trust was taken to protect and preserve the identified funds and investors’ interests while the FMA’s inquiries continue.

We want to ensure that Forestlands has established a process for distribution that is proper and fair for all investors.

We understand that the Forestlands companies did not each own a set share in the pooled forestry assets.  Instead, each of the 18 different companies owned specific forests, each of which were at different ages and stages, and some of which had been partly harvested.

It is not the FMA’s role to determine the process for allocating funds among companies or investors. The responsibility for that remains with the companies and their director. To date, we have not received a satisfactory response from the director to our questions on these matters.

The Forestlands companies have also failed to file financial statements. Our investigation into these and other matters is ongoing.

22 March 2017

The FMA has received complaints from various investors in Forestlands. Forestlands has recently sold all its forestry assets.

We have identified $18 million which Forestlands say is to be paid to all its investors. That money has been placed in a trust account after our discussion with a Forestlands director. It will remain in trust pending further inquiry.

The FMA notes a statement that has been issued on the Forestlands website dated 15/03/2017.

We have concerns about the accuracy of this statement, which we have raised with Forestlands.

Following a query from an investor about this statement, the FMA wants to make clear that this was published without our knowledge. The FMA is currently investigating the events in question.


Arena Capital/Blackfort

27 July 2015

Arena Capital Limited was placed into liquidation in the Christchurch High Court on 24 July 2015.  Korda Mentha (the current receivers of Arena) have been appointed as liquidators.  The receivers’ update to the Companies Office can be found here and the amended update on the KordaMentha website noting the liquidation of Arena can be found here.

17 July 2015

The receivers and managers of Arena Capital Limited have provided a further update to investors which can be found on the KordaMentha website here.

11 June 2015

The Receivers and Managers of Arena Capital Limited (Arena) Grant Graham and Neale Jackson of KordaMentha, who were appointed by the Court on application by the FMA under s522 of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 to preserve assets have provided an interim update to investors and the Court about the steps they have taken to date and the current status of their work.

Their preliminary findings include:

  • KordaMentha has been contacted by approximately 750 people who claim to have placed funds with Arena.
  • The collective deposits into Arena’s bank accounts from all sources amounted to $9 million.  Some monies were repaid to some clients before the FMA obtained asset preservation orders and before the company was placed in receivership, so the amount of capital contributions remaining owing to clients will be less than $9 million and is still being assessed.
  • There are no financial accounts for Arena.
  • There is no evidence of any actual trading being conducted by Arena in foreign exchange markets.
  • Arena continues to be in receivership

The investigation by the FMA and the Serious Fraud Office is ongoing. 

Investors in Arena are encouraged to register with KordaMentha and provide their contact details and evidence of their investment.  Investors can contact KordaMentha on (09) 307 7865 or BlackFortFX@kordamentha.com. This includes any investors that may have already contacted the FMA. A copy of the letter to investors is available on the KordaMentha website.

28 May 2015

We are undertaking an investigation into Arena Capital Limited (Arena), trading as BlackfortFX (Blackfort). On 15 May, we obtained asset preservation orders over the assets of Arena/Blackfort. On 27 May, the High Court in Christchurch granted the FMA’s application for Grant Graham and Neale Jackson of KordaMentha to be appointed as receivers and managers of Arena/Blackfort.  They will be responsible for managing the business and identifying assets.

Any investor in Arena/Blackfort is encouraged to register with KordaMentha and provide their contact details and evidence of their investment. Investors can contact KordaMentha on (09) 307 7865 or BlackFortFX@kordamentha.com.  This includes any investors that may have already contacted the FMA.

Read the FMA's media release

21 May 2015

FMA secures Asset Preservation Orders over Arena Capital Limited / Blackfort

The FMA confirms that it is undertaking an investigation into Arena Capital Limited (Arena), trading as BlackfortFX (Blackfort). The FMA has obtained asset preservation orders over the assets of Arena/Blackfort and associated persons, in light of concerns that investor funds may be at risk. 

Arena is registered on the FSPR and purports to offer FX services to clients.  The FMA is concerned that Arena may be operating in breach of financial markets legislation.  We cannot comment further at this stage to protect the integrity of the investigation.  The FMA is working with the SFO and we will provide further information as soon as we are able. 

Any investor with information about Arena/Blackfort is encouraged to go to the FMA’s website where investors can use the online complaint form to provide information, or call the FMA helpline: 0800 434 567.