7 Apr 2017

NZ winery owner admits fraud in US

4:20 pm on 7 April 2017

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is reconsidering whether an United States businessman whose company bought sensitive land in Hawke's Bay remains of good character - after his guilty plea to a fraud charge.

Charles Banks is the majority shareholder of Terroir Capital, which manages the Terroir Winery Fund, which was granted consent to acquire the Hawke's Bay winery Trinity Hill in 2014.

A condition of the consent required the individuals who controlled Terroir Winery Fund, including Mr Banks, to remain of good character, the OIO said.

The OIO said in a statement it was "aware that US wine fund manager, Charles Banks, has pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud in the United States."

The statement said it met with the fund's representatives and, in its view, Mr Banks was unlikely to meet his ongoing obligation to remain of good character.

It said if it decided Mr Banks was not of good character, it would have him removed as an individual with control of sensitive land.

"The Terroir Winery Fund reported this matter to the OIO and is cooperating with our inquiries."

Mr Banks was due to be sentenced on 26 June 2017, the OIO said.