15 November 2012
The investigation into the affairs of David Ross of Ross Asset Management Ltd and related entities has moved forward today with the release of the receivers' report.
The investigation commenced on 25 October when the Financial Markets Authority received complaints from investors who had been unable to withdraw funds, several months after requesting them.
Following initial inquiries FMA moved immediately to obtain information from Mr Ross. When he was not able to satisfy serious concerns, FMA executed a search warrant from 31 October - 2 November on the offices and home of David Ross, and on 2 November obtained a freeze of Mr Ross's assets and assets of entities located in New Zealand. Receivers PwC and brokers First NZ Capital were appointed on FMA's application on 6 November and required by the Court to submit a report within five working days.
The report, prepared by John Fisk and David Bridgman of PwC, with the assistance of brokers from First NZ Capital, explains that Ross Asset Management's records show purported investments of $449.6 million, held on behalf of more than 900 investors across 1720 accounts. This figure represents the portfolio values reported by Ross Asset Management to investors, not their actual capital contributions, or the current value of those contributions. The latter figures are yet to be determined.
The Receivers and Managers' focus over the first five days of their appointment has been to identify and secure investment assets. After searching the custody accounts identified by Mr Ross and through wider searches in international investment markets, they have so far located investments of only $10.2 million. The search continues.
FMA CEO Sean Hughes said today that while he welcomed the greater clarity the report brings on the affairs of Ross Asset Management, it clearly makes for difficult reading for the 900 plus investors with funds under management.
"The events of the past two weeks demonstrate that FMA will take swift action in response to investor complaints and we would encourage people to come forward if they have concerns about the security of their investment. They should be confident that we will listen and act where appropriate," Mr Hughes said.
"We understand Mr Ross has been in this business for over a decade. The adviser regime is still relatively new, as are the powers under which FMA operates, but it is heartening to see the speed with which FMA were able to conduct an inquiry, preserve assets and appoint a manager and receiver. Our end goal is the best possible outcome for the investor, although we realise that in this instance it would appear that the remaining assets are limited."
"New Zealand has nearly 2000 Authorised Financial Advisers, most of whom are behaving professionally, working to comply with the new financial adviser laws and seeking to serve their clients well. We are continuing to work with both advisers and investors to ensure both parties understand what information needs to be made available. For investors in particular it's about understanding what questions to ask and having the confidence to ask them. They need to understand the nature of their investments and who is holding them, and maintain an appropriately diversified portfolio."
FMA has been posting regular updates for investors on its website, in addition to email contact with those who had identified themselves to the regulator.
FMA is working with other agencies, including SFO in relation to the serious issues the report identifies.
A copy of PwC's report can be found at http://www.pwc.co.nz/RossAssetManagement.
Tony Reid on 021 739 052 or firstname.lastname@example.org