10 May 2011

Hotchin's assets to stay frozen, judge rules

10:25 pm on 10 May 2011

An attempt by Hanover boss Mark Hotchin to overturn a ruling freezing his assets has failed.

In December last year the Securities Commission (now part of the Financial Markets Authority) applied to the Auckland High Court to have Mr Hotchin's assets frozen to meet any civil claims brought by investors in Hanover Finance, Hanover Capital or United Finance.

The companies collapsed and assets were frozen in 2008, affecting 16,500 investors.

The court granted the temporary order to freeze Mr Hotchin's assets, including money and properties, to stop them from being sold or transferred.

Mr Hotchin appealed against the order in February, saying any claims against him were unlikely to be successful.

However, in a decision released on Tuesday, Justice Winkelmann said there was good grounds for the Securities Commission investigation and ruled that Mr Hotchin's assets should remain frozen.

Mr Hotchin had also argued that he was being singled out by the commission, but Justice Winkelmann said she saw no evidence of this.

Parts of the judge's decision, including details of the commission's investigation into Mr Hotchin, have been suppressed.

The lawyer for 3000 former Hanover investors, Tim Rainey, said he expects that Mr Hotchin would appeal against the ruling.

Mr Rainey says it is a relief that the High Court believes there is a case to answer and is appropriate that Mr Hotchin's assets remain frozen to provide a pool which can be used to provide compensation.