22 Jun 2010

Power acknowledges Hubbard criticism

6:35 am on 22 June 2010

Commerce Minister Simon Power says he is aware of the Southland businessman Allan Hubbard's criticism of the Government's actions after the appointment of statutory managers to take control of his affairs.

The Government has put Mr Hubbard, his wife Margaret, his finance firm Aorangi Securities and seven trusts under statutory management.

However, the company the Hubbards are most associated with - troubled South Canterbury Finance - is not affected.

Mr Hubbard says Aorangi Securities is financially sound and can make its next payment to investors at the end of the month.

Mr Hubbard says the Government has been misguided in taking the action it has, and questions whether investors' money was at risk.

A spokesperson for Mr Power says he is aware of Mr Hubbard's criticism, but does not want to comment further.

Mr Hubbard, 82, says the appointment of statutory managers to take control of his affairs is misguided and insists he has acted honourably. He apologised for what had happened, but says the Government has been misguided in its action.

Mr Hubbard, who is undergoing kidney dialysis, says he doesn't believe there is any person in New Zealand that has acted more honourably than himself.

Mr Power acknowledges that placing individuals under statutory management is unusual.

It has happened only twice before.

He says it was deemed necessary in this instance because Mr and Mrs Hubbard are so intricately involved with all the entities as depositors, managers and borrowers.

Business and civic leaders have come out in support of Mr Hubbard.

Timaru Mayor Janie Annear says Mr Hubbard's integrity has never come into question before and she is backing him completely.

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith says it is important not to overreact to this news.

Ms Smith says Mr Hubbard is highly respected and has always looked after investors in the district.

Initial investigation

A complaint by an investor in Aorangi Securities about not receiving an investment statement or prospectus was laid in February.

An initial investigation by the Registrar of Companies found problems with the $134 million of loans made by Aorangi, with many appearing to be unsecured against assets and a lack of documentation.

The investigation also found that, contrary to investor instructions, it appeared many loans were not made under the security of a first registered mortgage.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating possible breaches of the Crimes Act.

The charitable trusts involved are Te Tua, Otipua, Oxford, Regent, Morgan, Benmore and Wai-iti.

Trevor Thornton and Richard Simpson of Grant Thornton were appointed as statutory managers.