The Securities Commission today released information about the status of its investigations into 50 failed finance companies.
It has completed 26 finance company investigations and is continuing with 24.
Criminal charges have been laid against 35 directors or officers of 14 finance companies. The charges have been laid by the Commission or, following referral by the Commission, by the National Enforcement Unit of the Companies Office. Three directors have been convicted. The other cases are still before the courts.
In most of the cases, civil proceedings have also been commenced by the Commission.
In carrying out its investigations the Commission works closely with the National Enforcement Unit of the Companies Office and the Serious Fraud Office and has referred 10 finance company cases to them. In one other case the Commission accepted an enforceable undertaking from company directors.
"The Commission has worked extremely hard to ensure all failed finance companies are being thoroughly investigated. The collapse of almost the entire finance company sector over a very short time period has meant that the Commission has had to deploy its limited resources effectively in deciding which cases to investigate first," said Commission Chairman Jane Diplock.
"Like other regulators in New Zealand and around the world, we generally don't comment on the progress of our investigations. This is because of the risk of causing unjustified damage to the reputation of the businesses and people we are investigating before we are sure that the grounds for our concern were justified by the evidence we have established. We must also take care that we don't prejudice the fair and effective trial of a person who is eventually charged by releasing too much information.
"On the other hand, we want to keep the public - and particularly investors - informed about our finance company work. From time to time we release additional information when we believe it is in the public interest to do so.
"Investigations take time, and it's important the public understands what is involved in our investigations, including how and when the Commission decides to investigate, the enforcement powers we have, and why, in most cases, we don't comment publicly about investigations underway or complaints received."
The information released highlights the Commission's work to date, the companies being investigated, the status investigations and the behaviour or act that triggered the Commission's involvement. It is published on the Commission's website at www.seccom.govt.nz/