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Icon Sachs (whatever that is), Fennas Finance, a bank account at an ANZ Napier branch, a conspiracy theorist & a pyramid scheme

Icon Sachs (whatever that is), Fennas Finance, a bank account at an ANZ Napier branch, a conspiracy theorist & a pyramid scheme

This is the second article in a series about New Zealand's role in the offshore finance world. The first one is here.

By Gareth Vaughan, Denise McNabb & Richard Smith of Naked Capitalism

A secretive organisation using a name that looks like a play on that of investment bank Goldman Sachs appears to have run a pyramid scheme via a New Zealand registered company using an ANZ bank account.

In yet another demonstration of the exploitation for nefarious purposes of NZ's soft touch company formation and oversight regime, Fennas Finance Ltd is at the centre of the scheme that appears to have illegally pooled funds from investors probably located in Europe, and deposited them in an account at NZ's biggest bank.

For its part ANZ acknowledges it was used by these entities but says it was only for a short time before bank staff picked up the strange activity and returned money to investors.

'A world class investment academy'

We'll start this story at Icon Sachs, which describes itself as a “world class investment academy,” and whose website says it's based in Dubai. In what is at times broken English, and with pricing in euros, Icon Sachs' website sets out some very sketchy background on the entity and those behind it, and talks up the potential for high investor returns. Here's a flavour;

Icon Sachs is the result of the meeting between a group of sophisticated investors that met in Geneva, Switzerland during mid 2000. Among this group, two gentlemen from Switzerland had worked for large investment banks and hedge funds, one had experience from the trading floor in Frankfurt, and two more were asset managers working out of Dubai.


The Icon Sachs member mission is to provide opportunities for its members to obtain outstanding financial returns by becoming a better investor through education and training. The mission of Icon Sachs is also to foster an engaged and smart investment environment in an effort to enhance the opportunities for members to succeed.

The Icon Sachs program is a self-directed training and Education Package for people seeking knowledge and expertise in alternative investing including hedge funds, private equity, structured products, commodities, and real assets.

An Icon Sachs presentation  talks about investment pools that make it possible for "everyone to access the world’s leading industry and profit making strategy through our unique online members club iPic." This club is purportedly the result of Icon Sachs founders' years of investment experience with structured leverage products, "which uniquely enables the possibility to earn high returns with a relatively small investment."

It says its investment pool data is a structured product with multiple elements for diversification and; "High use of leverage elements, to reach high returns - compounding effect starts after 3 months (2 months if you qualify for Fast Track) – indicative return per year is 40%."

A range of "education packages" priced from €95 to €1,775 are outlined, with maximum investment ranging from €250 to €8,000.

Then we're told; "The moment you join Icon Sachs, you can see your iPic Investment and directly be able to show the fantastic performance of your own trade to other interested people." (There's a video here).

An ANZ Napier branch

Smelling a rat, the investigative website behindmlm published this article last year. It features information not available on the public version of Icon Sachs' website detailing that investors should make payments into an ANZ bank account under the name Fennas Finance at the bank's 90 Hastings Street, Napier branch.

A NZ registered company, Fennas Finance describes itself as payment provider and multi-level marketing company (MLM) as below;

Fennas Finance Ltd, located in New Zealand, is building the modern partner for a global 200+ billion dollar industry. By building a truly unique portfolio of products and services including gold backed digital currency, Fennas is moving towards becoming a very important financial partner for the global direct selling industry. The combination of products are ideal to secure customer acquisition as well as recurring use of the payment services, including in the fast growing Chinese market. (Fennas services are not yet available for New Zealand citizens)

Fennas also says; 

Fennas Investment portal will offer a service based on Angel project fundings. The angels in the Fennas system shall be primarily very successful MLM leaders and the projects should be related to the MLM sector primarily.  

Selected MLM leaders may become Angels and head up a syndicate of investors to back projects related to the MLM industry. The benefit for the Angel will be that, as the leader of the syndicate, they may leverage their investments in the projects they select themselves. The Angel will choose a type of project or company to invest in, estimate how many investments they will make per year and promote this to their followers who then may take part in their investment pool. 

Interestingly, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned investors to "beware of pyramid schemes posing as multi-level marketing programs," and the US Federal Trade Commission also has a long standing warning here.

'They were a customer very, very briefly'

For its part ANZ confirmed to us that an ANZ bank account was indeed used by this scheme, meaning at least one individual involved either was, or managed to become, an ANZ customer.

"They were a customer very, very briefly last year. Not in that [Icon Sachs] company's name. Our AML [anti-money laundering] team closed them down quickly and we returned the money to the depositors," an ANZ spokesman said.

He declined to say how much money was returned, or where the investors were located.

Below are the bank account details as outlined by behindmlm.

Investors who have raised concerns about Icon Sachs, including here, note it has been registered since April 2015, but its domain name has been kept private along with its address and who is behind the scheme.

The rural Hawke's Bay, Johnsonville & Christchurch 

So what do we know of Fennas Finance? It was incorporated as a company in May last year with an Adrian Douglas Brough, who provided a rural Hawke's Bay address, presenting documents to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment run Companies Office. Brough is a shareholder with a stake of just over 5%. We have been unable to reach him thus far. 

Fennas Finance's director is Australian resident Michael John Ivkovic. Other shareholders include Gabrioli Ltd of the US Virgin Islands, and Trans Global Trading Ltd of Dubai. Both have 42.85% stakes. There's also Henning Witte of Stockholm with 9.29%.

Meanwhile, Fennas Finance is in the process of changing the address of its registered office from 12 Manor Place, Bryndwr, Christchurch to 24b Moorefield Road, Johnsonville, Wellington. The Christchurch address has been the home of Wairakei Welcome Bed & Breakfast, but the phone number has been disconnected. 

The Johnsonville address is the same one used as a mailing address by registered financial service provider NZ OSL Services, which featured in our previous article here. NZ OSL's shareholder, Steve Medley of Los Angeles and his small cap stock market shenanigans, also featured in our previous article. 

Paul McDonald, who uses the 12 Manor Place address, is a director of NZ OSL Services. He was also briefly a director of Fennas Finance last year. Elusive and linked to software development, McDonald appears to be extricating himself from these business associations. 

'I don't know who you are talking about'

Michael John Ivkovic, Fennas Finance's director, resides in the Sydney suburb of Mosman and is said to be in funds management .Here’s some information about Ivkovic that can be found on several websites including that of IVS Holdings Ltd here;

Michael has extensive experience in the structured finance, funds management and investment banking industry in Australia and Asia. Michael was formerly the Chairman of Brick Securities Limited, and Executive Chairman of NZI Securities Limited and NZI Investment Services Limited.  

Michael established The Australian Private Capital Advisory Services Group in 1988 and retired from that position in 1998 following a management buyout. Since that time Michael has served as a Director of Paramount Securities Limited and the publicly listed Harrington Limited, AFT Limited, and Capital Mining Limited. 

Michael is a Director of Global Payment Solutions Limited, Reckon Health Care Holdings Ltd and Hightower Enterprises Pty Limited. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales. 

Brick Securities was dissolved some years ago. It received some media coverage in Australia over the firm's attempts to peddle Auckland real estate to Australians. Ivkovic has a Bloomberg profile here. The phone number listed on it is that of serviced office provider Servcorp, where the woman who answered the phone said; "I don't know who you are talking about." Ivkovic has no phone number listed in Mosman.

Global Payment Solutions

Ivkovic was also chairman of a company called Global Payment Solutions when it sought to raise funds on the Australian sharemarket last year. Its prospectus showed many of its shareholders were connected to the Towah group.

Towah Norway AS, a collapsed pyramid scheme apparently interesting authorities in Norway and the US, is connected to Global Payment Solutions and Fennas Finance through several common shareholders. Icon Sachs, meanwhile, tells investors that Towah is the payment platform for Fennas.

Aside from Fennas Finance, NZ Companies Office records show Ivkovic has been a director of Orator Technologies and Trentham Goldrush Ltd on this side of the Tasman. Orator's liquidation wrapped up 10 years ago with liquidator Geoffrey McDonald saying; "The company was clearly insolvent at the time of my appointment." The liquidation coincided with a corporate restructure at Orator's Australian parent AFT Ltd.

Meanwhile, the Henning Witte who is listed as a Fennas shareholder appears to be the conspiracy theorist featured here who apparently believes in mind control via implanted chips and the pseudoscientific theory of Scalar waves

Companies Office records show a now deregistered NZ company Mirian Payments Ltd, with a familiar cast of characters. Witte, Brough and Gabrioli Ltd were all Mirian shareholders. As was British Virgin Islands company Aristander Holdings Ltd said to be Dubai-based, which was a Fennas shareholder between May and August last year before its holding was transferred to Trans Global Trading Ltd. Aristander also shows up as a major Global Payment Solutions shareholder.

'Bank grade security' from a mail services company

At 24b Moorefield Road we find Private Box Ltd, located in the same building as a medical centre. Private Box is primarily a mail forwarding company that also offers registered office services, and boasts on its website of "bank grade security, we protect your privacy."

Director and co-owner Gareth Foster says at last count Private Box had 700 to 800 companies on its books. But its staff don't necessarily know much about the business these companies undertake.

"[But] generally speaking if it does have a financial sounding name we tend to take a very hard look at them if we are a registered office provider because of the money laundering risk associated with that," Foster said. "But if it is a mail only customer we've got a pretty standard process for vetting them around checking their ID, making sure they are who they say they are."

Private Box is a reporting entity as a trust and company service provider under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT Act) supervised by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). Fennas Finance, however is not supervised for compliance with the AML/CFT Act by any of the Act's three supervisors being the DIA, Financial Markets Authority or Reserve Bank.

"We're pretty good in terms of vetting the account holder and all that sort of stuff. If they're just getting mail the risk from our point of view is quite low in terms of money laundering because it's just a mailing address," says Foster.

Fennas is due to change its registered office to Private Box's Johnsonville address on June 9.

"Once that comes through we'll go through some extra steps with them," says Foster.

Asked if he had met anyone from either Fennas or NZ OSL Services Foster said no. The firm's staff do sometimes do Skype calls with overseas customers and ask for certified documents and make sure they come from someone contactable.

"So we always do match a face to an ID. It's more a check that the ID they're supplying is sufficient or is actually connected to the person," Foster says.

(The picture below shows Private Box's small Johnsonville office on the left, and the sign outside the medical centre dominated building it's located in on the right).


NZ's simple company establishment process, the country's good international reputation and lax regulatory enforcement, have proven irresistible attractions to assorted international rogues and crooks over recent years. Key planks of the good reputation include consistently being ranked one of the least corrupt countries in the world in Transparency International's Corruptions Perception Index, and being regarded as one of the easiest places in the world to do business by the World Bank.

After it emerged that NZ registered SP Trading Ltd had arranged the charter of a Georgia-registered cargo plane in 2009 to fly 35 tonnes of weapons from North Korea to Bangkok, and ultimately to Iran, the Government attempted to toughen company rules through the Companies and Limited Partnerships Amendment Act, under which all companies must have one or more directors resident in NZ or Australia. Other changes introduced by this Act include in an application for registration every director must register their full name and place of birth (yes, really), and where the company has an ultimate holding company, prescribed information about that holding company must be disclosed.

Thus it remains a simple process to establish a NZ company, as the Companies Office notes here;

Starting a company online (incorporating) is as simple as reserving your company name ($10.22), completing the incorporation application ($150) and returning your signed consent forms. Here we will take you through how to incorporate the most common type of company - the New Zealand limited company - but you can incorporate or register all company types online.

Whilst great for legitimate business people, those scouring the globe for regulatory arbitrage opportunities are clearly still seeing NZ as a soft touch as highlighted by the likes of Fennas Finance and companies that featured in our first article such as United Global Holdings and Breder Suasso. NZ is somewhere they can establish a company simply and cheaply with the assistance of an obliging local or two, and then operate in jurisdictions of their choice trading off NZ's good reputation.

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(Comment totally unrelated to story deleted. There are plenty of other places on this site to discuss property. See our commenting policy here -… Ed).


"NZ's simple company establishment process, the country's good international reputation and lax regulatory enforcement, have proven irresistible attractions to assorted international rogues and crooks over recent years".

Time to stop being sheep!


These factors are good, as politicians assert. Likewise, low on the corruption list. They are laudable aims, and outcomes to be proud of.

The problem is the implicit assumption that they also mean NZ is 'clean, safe, free from crime and corruption'. The reality is that these are the very factors that make NZ attractive to criminal misuse. Scams work best using countries with good reputations. Especially countries resting on the laurels of good reputation who see no need to protect it.

If NZ loses its good reputation, the crims may move on, and it will take years to rebuild. Just ask Panama (for them, two years of massive improvement, undone overnight, for years to come). The Caymans and Switzerland similarly are still regarded rogues by many, long after they've made huge changes. And if NZ's reputation is trashed, do we really think we'll somehow be different? Will we be able to restore our reputation by intoning in unison "we're no tax haven", as we continue to offer the services of a secrecy and tax haven?

We can't rest on a good reputation, we need actively to maintain it.

FMA and MBIE are at least trying, by deregistering some, but many of the rules are stacked in favour of scammers and other crims. Likewise, Police can forfeit local drug dealers' tinnie houses and Waikato mansions, and they're doing a great job of it, but they're virtually powerless if the Sinaloa cartel (or the Chinese organised crime groups supplying vast quantities of methamphetamine destroying our people, our communities and our local economies) buy 60 Auckland houses in a week. As here:

After 2 months in the spotlight, NZ's loose foreign trusts and companies registration regime continue to provide our own version of a Kiwi invisibility cloak hiding any activities completely indiscriminately - whether the secrecy is for legitimate purposes, to enable tax evasion by the rich and powerful, or to enable and facilitate organised crime groups to operate and flourish in another layer of secrecy.

We can't rest on the laurels of a good reputation by doing nothing. Preserving NZ's reputation requires meaningful affirmative action. In two months, there has been none, beyond windowdressing.


I do very much agree with you Ron, though how do we motivate our Government in to doing the right thing?

At the moment it only really appears to be the UK taking the initiative on AML measures to try to stop the crims.
New Zealand seems to want to hang back and to see what happens, well at least for another year.

May I suggest joining forces at least publicity wise with other cities that are also suffering from the same issues. Vancouver is a prime example. At least then we can prove to our respective governments that they really need to take action or risk being down grade in our clean reputation.

BBC article: Vancouver's 'Freak Show' Property Market

I'm sure the BBC would be delighted to hear from you too, as it's a subject that's very pressing at the moment and it would help them (And all of us) highlight this as a very global issue. Hopefully we can put on the breaks before the full damage sets in.


Where their is a will their is a way. If govt put a stop on money laundering even housing buble will burst n the fallacy of NZ ecenomy will be expsed n how will than national will the next election.


Thanks CJ099, I've been watching London, Vancouver, Sydney, NYC, Miami too, as cities which seem to have similar issues (& AKL as our own mini version), and have been particularly interested in political inaction displayed as if it is action.

In UK, Cameron appears to be taking the lead, but it's too early to tell if it's real. As with Key here, he resisted for a long time. Unlike here, a more effective opposition and media forced action. At the London corruption summit he proclaimed a public register. The reality however is that it wasn't new. It was put in place last year, the legislation kicked in (as I recall) about March/April and was set to commence I think June/July. When last I looked, it also had a gaping hope (trusts excluded), which rendered it almost completely meaningless as the crims needed only to rearrange affairs, and had a year or so to do so.

Ditto the NYC/Miami crackdown. It was very limited in scope, easily circumvented, and telegraphed months prior.

And in NZ, with far less pressure from opposition or media (mostly 'noise' around irrelevancies, with only Interest and a few incisive pieces in mainstream media drowned out), both of Key's 'actions', viewed dispassionately, appear bereft of substance. (The terms of reference of the Shewan 'review' render it likely meaningless except as a political tool to use if required, and the AML extension is an almost complete red herring).

What I can't fathom is why.

There seems no benefit to NZ at all in enabling and facilitating crime.

Even applying an ultra right wing view accepting tax evasion, shielding those undermining the tax bases of other countries damages our reputation with trading partners, inhibits their willingness to help track down our own tax evaders, and encourages them to maintain their own secrecy vehicles that kiwis can use to evade and/or avoid NZ taxes. Likewise even accepting a right wing view that all investment is good, whether legitimate or illegal, doesn't work either, because the money is never actually in NZ. Our foreign trust regime isn't like a criminal bank, it's designed more like a criminal getaway car. We simply provide another secrecy layer between say Belize and BVI, with the actual 'investment' in Manhattan, London, Vancouver.

So, there's no possible benefit to NZ in enabling and facilitating crime, on any view (at least as far as I can tell), so I really am intrigued why we cling so assiduously to it.

Likewise Labour's policy to abolish foreign trusts seems just as loopy, when we could simply apply a criminal immobiliser, and might even gain competitive advantage from doing so, as legitimate users of secrecy vehicles sick of being tarnished by association with criminals might migrate their business to NZ's clean version.

So, why are both main parties promoting something each of which seems, objectively viewed, bad for NZ?

It is especially perplexing because the solution (it seems to me at least) is so obvious, relatively simple, and is good for NZ on many levels. Truly, I can't fathom it. So, from a political science perspective, it's really quite interesting.

My working theory is (a) I'm missing something, or (b) amidst all the noise, neither party has actually paused to think about the issue clearly.

Interestingly, just before Key was kicked out of Parliament, and in a Newshub piece around the same time, it seemed for a moment that Shaw (Greens) was the first politician to 'get it' (& assuming a benign explanation for Key). And they've had an attempt at PQs too (Turei), although innocent drafting meant they were doomed to be slapped down. But any chance that common sense might surface was quickly drowned out in the noise of irrelevancies from both Labour and National being just that much louder, the media mostly focusing on noise over substance, Key's ejection from the chamber, and as we now know the distraction of arranging a Labour-Green political hand-holding exercise. So, that spark was extinguished. And so distracted were Greens and Labour that (by my recollection watching parliament at the time, although not having gone back over the record to confirm) they missed what might have been a serious privileges issue against Key himself potentially misleading the House. If so, richly ironic if a wrong-headed focus on Key blinded their advisers to the real issues and they missed what might have been a serious chink in the armour when Key overreached.

Anyway, interesting times. Albeit sad, for those little things, like journalism, democracy, and what's best for the country. But interesting nonetheless.


Yes agreed that these are very interesting times, though I do think we really need to speak out. Hence why I suggested contacting the BBC (Sorry to put you on the spot there, just they're more likely to listen to you and report on your findings).

I just don't think we have time to play the wait and see whether the UK follows through on it's AML measures and if they have any effect? Plus I don't think their housing market is so at risk as ours of accelerating out of control leading to a eventual crash.
The UK has a lot of measures currently in place; Stamp Duty, Increased Stamp Duty on Investors, CGT and Council Tax, Building reports, BuytoLet Mortgages and tighter lending criteria to at least slow down the other property drivers such as their Investors /Speculators.

Auckland has been steaming ahead far too rapidly given the size of our economy for it to make any logical sense. And our main method of selling via 'auctions' is so geared towards the Investors that it very much helps facilitates Overseas property investors (Who are more likely to be indulging in money laundering activities).

I would suggest pointing out more publicly how best our Government can, as you put it; "Simply apply a criminal immobiliser, and might even gain competitive advantage from doing so".

The current Government suggested AML measures do seem too light weight and I think are likely to not have much impact on our current situation.
And given how they messed up with the recent property purchasing statistics for Non-resident Investors and the huge out cry from that. I really don't think National can be trusted to do anything effective to combat money laundering and slow down our housing market.


NZ PM is relaxed about these types of complex 'companies' operating in NZ.
This is an example of NZ providing financial services of the highest excellence - and at the end of the day the characters behind the company are answerable to another country's authorities. Nothing to see here.
ANZ will be proud of their special customer.
And it's good that NZ can provide the necessary cover for these services.


It is proved that NZ is used as heaven to park money and money may be chanelised in buying property to makt it legal. Why is government not acting fast.


Unfortunately New Zealand's GDP growth appears to be very dependant on property price increases, that and I suspect that a lot of our Politicians have vested interests in keeping prices high.

What we should be concentrating on is supporting our main economic pillars: Exports, Tourism and encouraging Quality Migrants who will support and bring new business in to NZ.

We can't do that if we allow of financial system to get out of control and if good honest people can't afford to live here.


Correct. NZ is such a livable place and now greed of politicians spoiling. Hope people of NZ realise the damage that is been done. Should stop now and fast. In name of development greed n coruption of mind has taken over.


Useless and pointless business for New Zealand, and taints us as well with the sleeze. The companies office must structure this misuse out of existence.
Remember the 'broken windows' policy, where the approach is to notice the small crimes and deal to them, thus reducing the big stuff from lifting the general attitude.
Why not in finance ?


The pressure's been on for years from international law enforcement for New Zealand to sort out the lax companies registration procedures. I think Canada and Australia put up a few more hoops to jump through, and if NZ doesn't at least match their level of scrutiny, we'll be the shell company location of choice for terrorists, scammers, money launderers, organised crime, and genocidal kleptocrats. Not holding my breath for action, though.


From the Governments point of view - if it means money coming into the NZ domain in any form or vehicle then it's a 'good thing'.


Until FinCEN or Interpol come down like a ton of bricks.


@Kakapo. If FIFA is an example, ignored by everyone until the US authorities ripped it open, the 3-letter acronym triumvirate IRS/FBI/DOJ might be in the mix too. It may take a few years to follow the trails, but if a slew of NZ foreign trusts and nominee director/shareholder companies are in the mix sheltering organised crime groups' assets and operating bases in the US, it won't do 'NZ Inc' any favours (a) not to have closed it down, and (b) not to have helped track down any crims that have used NZ foreign trusts and companies as an invisibility cloak.

Heck, the Americans are renowned for sharing the proceeds of ill-gotten gains, so we'd also miss out on the chance of a cut of whatever billions may be uncovered. Oh, and the chance to be a world leader cracking down major organised crime.

Sure, embarrassing if we helped shield them in the first place, but far less so than having continued to do so, with full knowledge, and steadfast inaction, surely?


Very much my thinking. For one thing, we don't want to be working against the USA in the geopolitical sense, through facilitating the operations of terrorist organisations, or countries which are on the current USA sh!t list. We've already been implicated in dodgy North Korean weapons deals, which will not be smiled on by Washington. Unless of course they get access.


You may be right, yet all the more bizarre when the money doesn't even come into NZ. As tax/trusts expert Deborah Russell said: "the assets that are in the trust are overseas"


@Kakapo. Yep, OECD (even in the report that 'gave NZ a big tick', and another later) and FATF have taken NZ to task for lax foreign trust and company registration rules. Assertions that we fixed the issue by now requiring resident directors are just plain wrong.


"Auckland lawyer Bharat Parshotam has been suspended from the profession for nine months after falsely witnessing documents"…
Wonder if the PM's lawyer has seen this?
Apparently there are ethics and legality around witnessing signatures for lawyers.


The PMs "lawyer" is not a lawyer, having given up his registration. There is a story there, yet to be told.


Anything to do with PM is a story waiting to be told. NZ lacks investigative political journalism and also strong opposition but one should believe in karma unforunately our govt in parliment believes in Kama sutra. Hope karma wins.


@MortgageBelt. Indeed. From a 2014 High Court judgment quoted by the Herald: "Whitney purported to witness Nielsen's signature. Whitney acknowledged in cross-examination that he was not present when Nielsen signed the document. Neilsen signed it in Las Vegas, and Whitney witnessed Nielsen's signature when the document was later returned to New Zealand."


Am highly disapointed with all politician as well as the media in raising voice, concern of the common people. God knows why the government is not taking action to protect NZ from being a heaven for money laundering. I know at this stage NZ is a soft target and being used by many to not only park their unofficial money in NZ but also use themoney to buy property and businesses as a result the monry is legalised and for that they do not mind paying a very high premijm n that is also destroying NZ.


FYI, this story has been updated as the 12 Manor Place, Bryndwr, Christchurch address is not in the red zone as initially indicated.