2 Apr 2012

Hanover investors say civil action not enough

6:15 am on 2 April 2012

Investors who lost money in the collapse of the Hanover Group are calling for criminal charges to be brought against the company's directors.

The Financial Markets Authority has filed civil proceedings against six directors and promoters of the Hanover Group, which included Hanover Finance, Hanover Capital and United Finance.

Those named in the action are Eric Watson, Mark Hotchin, Greg Muir, Sir Tipene O'Regan, Bruce Gordon and Dennis Broit.

The authority is seeking compensation of about $35 million.

The case relates to claims made by the company in fundraising documents and advertisements between 2007 and 2008, which the authority says were misleading and untrue.

An Auckland retiree, Alf Powell, who lost almost $300,000 in the collapse, says Hanover continued to take investments even when its directors knew the company was failing.

Another former Hanover investor, Roland Crone, says he believes the company's collapse was due to more than just incompetence.

A lawyer representing 3000 former Hanover investors, Tim Rainey, says he hopes to launch further civil proceedings on the back of the action being taken by the Financial Markets Authority.

Mr Rainey says action could target a Hanover trustee, the New Zealand Guardian Trust.

He says the trust was supposed to supervise the performance of various Hanover obligations.

A spokesperson for Mark Hotchin says the Hanover directors were surprised the FMA announced its action on Sunday, as a number of them are overseas and have not received the proceedings.

He says some of the directors will make a statement later in the week.