3 Apr 2012

Shareholders, investors welcome probes

7:16 am on 3 April 2012

Shareholders Association leaders say the willingness of regulators to wave a stick at errant companies is a sharp reminder to directors of their their obligations to keep investors properly informed.

The Financial Markets Authority is taking civil action against six men in Hanover Group, including owners Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson, and Greg Mui and Sir Tipene O'Regan, over allegations that they misled investors.

It's also actively pursued other people associated with failed finance firms such as Lombard Finance and Nathans Finance. and Shareholders' Association chairman John Hawkins says the actions should help directors carry out their jobs more effectively.

And the New Zealand Trustees Association says the commercial trustee for Hanover Finance cannot escape scrutiny of its role and responsibilities during the company's collapse.

Corporate trustees historically have a watchdog role protecting investors, and NZ Trustees Association registrar Errol Anderson says legal scrutiny has wide ramifications.

Trustees worth checking

Investors in New Zealand's 65 credit unions should also be calling for accountability and results from the trustees overseeing their investments, he says.

Lawyer Tim Rainey - representing 3000 former Hanover investors - says the Financial Markets Authority's legal action against Hanover Finance could include examining the role of that firm's trustee, Guardian Trust.

"Guardian Trust has a very pivotal role in what has gone on here, and cannot escape being placed under scrutiny," Mr Rainey says. "It's very important for all trustees that the FMA has a good hard look at the corporate trustee in this situation".