BusinessDesk: Commerce Commission investigation into failed Credit Sails product awaits feedback from participants

BusinessDesk: Commerce Commission investigation into failed Credit Sails product awaits feedback from participants

 The Commerce Commission has completed its investigation into the Credit Sails notes that were sold to the public by brokerage Forsyth Barr in 2006 and are now worthless.

The commission began its investigation into the failure of the notes under the Fair Trading Act and has consulted with the Financial Markets Authority during its probe.

Forsyth Barr, one of New Zealand’s largest brokerages, was lead manager and underwriter of Credit Sails, an NZX-listed note offering 8.5% interest.

Some $91.5 million was raised from mum and dad investors and charities through the sale of the notes, which were issued by Cayman Islands-registered Credit Sails and promoted by Credit Agricole SA subsidiary Calyon Hong Kong.

Among the 1566 Credit Sails investors', enticed by the prospect of 8.5% annual interest over the six and a half year life time of the notes and an AA credit rating from Standard & Poor's, were several charities and community groups including the Hospice Southland Charitable Trust, the New Zealand Methodist Trust Association, the Youth Development Endowment Trust, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Dunedin, the Congregational Christian Church in Samoa and Dunedin Orphan's Club. Investors' had to stump up a minimum of NZ$5,000. See more background here.

Funds raised from the sale were used to invest in Momentum Collateralised Debt Obligations, a security backed by a pool of various types of debt. Some linked to Iceland’s failed banks, U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers and failed US directory publisher Idearc subsequently went into default.

“The commission’s investigation has advanced to the stage that it is now communicating is views to the parties who were involved with the investment offer,” it said in a statement today. “The commission is awaiting their response, which is due early July.”

It described as inaccurate media reports that the commission was “poised to announce compensation payments to investors.” The probe doesn’t have a limitation deadline because of an agreement reached between the regulator and the participants, it said.

The commission said it is aware of a letter asking investors in the failed notes to help finance legal action to recover losses.

“The commission does not have a view on whether investors should subscribe to that joint effort, but does recommend that any investor contemplating joining in legal action should consult their own lawyer to ensure that they have a full understanding of what is involved,” it said.

The commission expects to give it next public update in July or August, it said.

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