21 Jul 2012

Little comfort for finance firm investors

7:19 am on 21 July 2012

An investors' advocate says the collapse of finance company Capital + Merchant has taken a sad toll on those who lost their money.

Former directors Neal Nicholls, Wayne Douglas, and Owen Tallentire were on Thursday found guilty of fraud.

Capital + Merchant was placed into receivership in November 2007, owing $167 million to 7500 debenture holders. None of that money has been recovered and it is unlikely any funds will be returned to investors.

The group Exposing Unacceptable Financial Activities says many of those who put their money into the company had been trying to boost their retirement income.

Spokesperson Gray Eatwell says many are now on benefits while others, in their 70s, are trying to work.

'The toll has been dramatic in a lot of cases, in fact some people have committed suicide over it.

'A lot of people have seen it as a failure on their own part,' Mr Eatwell said, adding there had been some very sad cases.

The Serious Fraud Office says the case was hugely complex, involving two investigations into separate charges.

The three former directors faced a variety of charges following a Serious Fraud Office investigation into four transactions that happened between 2004 and 2006, involving $28 million.

Tallentire was found guilty on two of the four transactions, and not guilty on the other two. Nicholls and Douglas were found guilty on three transactions, and cleared on the other one.

Nicholls and Douglas were also cleared of a separate set of charges on theft and making a misleading statement relating to $14.4 million worth of alleged related party lending to a Palmerston North development.