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Opinion: Dear Allan Hubbard: Please say sorry and thanks to the taxpayers of NZ and the investors in SCF
By Bernard Hickey
Dear Allan Hubbard:
Please say sorry and thanks.
Please say sorry to the taxpayers of New Zealand and investors in South Canterbury Finance who now have to bear the burden of cleaning up your mess.
Please say thanks to the Finance Minister Bill English, Prime Minister John Key and the millions of taxpayers who are now having to pay for your mistakes.
Please say sorry to the South Canterbury Finance preference share holders who have lost all of the NZ$120 million they invested with you on the strength of your reputation.
Please take responsibilty for the mess created by the boom and now bust of the South Island's largest financial institution.
Please appear in public yourself to answer questions about what happened at South Canterbury Finance.
Please don't leave it up to your wife Jean, your PR advisors and your supporters to defend you in public. Please understand the scale of the damage done or your role in it.
Please be the humble man who does not shirk responsibility and cares deeply about your community that you are reputed to be.
Please don't publicly attack the government, the Statutory Manager, your fellow directors and anyone else who criticises you and then refuse to answer questions in public.
Please show some humility and some concern for the wider community. Please don't be more worried about your reputation than the impact on the business community or the public accounts of the nation.
Please say sorry for the way you built up and ran South Canterbury Finance in such a way that every New Zealand taxpayer now has had to stump up NZ$400 each or a total NZ$1.775 billion.
Please say sorry for your reckless lending decisions and for hiring the poor management that allowed the institution you built to go on a lending spree funded by government guaranteed money through late 2008 and early 2009.
Please take responsibility for the poor credit assessment and record keeping you passed on to Chief Executive Sandy Maier when he assumed control of the company in late December 2009.
Please explain why you failed to declare publicly, except in the bowels of your annual report, that your bank BNZ had summarily pulled its funding line in mid 2009.
Please explain why you used a local accounting firm Woodnorth Myers & Co as your auditor for so many years instead of bringing in an outside firm to provide some oversight.
Please explain why Ernst and Young found you had overvalued your assets by at least NZ$43.7 million in the initial accounts you prepared for 2008/09.
Please explain why you chose to repeatedly lend to related parties of other companies and interests that you either personally owned or controlled.
Please explain why you represented an equity injection in 2009 as a real injection of fresh money when it was nothing more than a merry-go-round of assets for shares.
Please explain why you refused to be interviewed or engage with the financial press in any meaningful way for years.
Please explain why you thought making interest free loans to young farmers to buy overpriced land was a prudent way to run a business.
Please explain why you chose to run so many businesses yourself without any outside scrutiny. A search of Companies Office records show you were or are a director and/or shareholder in 552 companies. The attached spreadsheet shows there are 1,690 companies registered from your offices at 39 George St, Timaru.
Please say sorry for saying repeatedly that South Canterbury Finance was a 'heartland' financier of rural businesses when it actually lent more than NZ$100 million to a luxury Auckland hotel redevelopment, the building of townhouses on Paritai Drive in Auckland, as well as to bars in the Viaduct. Please explain why you thought lending money to property developers in Queenstown who were unable to find funding was a good idea.
Please explain why there was so much related party lending between your companies and South Canterbury Finance and why you thought this was OK.
Please explain why you allocated NZ$13 million in shares to investors in Hubbard Management Funds that Grant Thornton has found in its second report did not exist.
Please explain why you reported to investors in Hubbard Management Funds that you had NZ$6 million in cash on hand when Grant Thornton said you actually had NZ$350,000 in cash.
Please explain why in March this year you had to mortgage your own assets to ensure you had enough cash to pay the interest on investments in Aorangi Securities. Please explain why you thought this was a legitimate thing to do and why you thought you should have been allowed to continue to do it for the entire group without outside scrutiny.
Please explain why only 17 of the 51 borrowers of money invested in Aorangi Securities are able to meet the interest payments or make sufficient profits.
Please explain why you did not set up a succession to run South Canterbury Finance after you retired.
Please explain why up to the end you were working seven days a week for most hours of the day and night, opening the mail and writing the cheques yourself, when you had employed dozens of people to do this for you. Please explain why you appeared not to trust your own people to run your own company.
Please explain why you believe you could say this in June this year and believe it: "I don't believe in the history of New Zealand that any person has acted more honourably than myself"
Most of all Mr Hubbard. Please acknowledge the pain you have caused your investors and the taxpayers of New Zealand.
Please say sorry and thank you.