Overseas Investment Office investigating Trinity Hill vineyard buyer on good character grounds after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the US

Overseas Investment Office investigating Trinity Hill vineyard buyer on good character grounds after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the US

The Overseas Investment Office is investigating whether the US-based owner of New Zealand's Trinity Hill vineyard should remain as 'of good character' after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the United States.

Charles Banks' Terroir Winery Fund was granted consent to purchase the vineyard in 2014. He is due to be sentenced on the charges in June. Read more about the case in this San Francisco Chronicle article.

If Banks is found to not meet the OIO's good character definition any more, the New Zealand authority will seek to have him removed as an individual with control of sensitive land in New Zealand.

Interest.co.nz understands the OIO still has to review what demands it would make on how this would happen, for example whether it would look to require sale the whole asset or other ways for Banks' control to be removed.

See the release from the OIO below:

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is aware that US wine fund manager, Charles Banks, has pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud in the United States. Mr Banks is the majority shareholder of Terroir Capital LLC, which manages the Terroir Winery Fund.

The Terroir Winery Fund was granted consent to acquire Hawke's Bay winery Trinity Hill in 2014. Mr Banks is due to be sentenced on 26 June 2017.

A condition of consent required the ‘individuals with control’ of the Terroir Winery Fund (including Mr Banks) to remain of good character. In light of Mr Banks’ guilty plea, the OIO is considering whether Mr Banks remains of good character.

The OIO has met with Terroir Winery Fund’s representatives to make it clear that in our view Mr Banks is unlikely to meet his on-going obligation to remain of good character.  If Mr Banks is not of good character, then we will seek to have him to be removed as an individual with control of sensitive land in New Zealand.

Terroir Winery Fund reported this matter to the OIO and  is cooperating with our enquiries.

Read the 2014 decision summary  

Read about the good character requirement

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We stop rapists and murderers from being deported from NZ ,are they of good character.

A big question is, if the sentence in the US requires that the property to be sold to provide restitution/fine (or whatever), or is confiscated by the US Government, will the OIO still be able to dictate who the land gets passed to?

If they find him of not good character, can they force it's sale?

Been an impossible year in the grape industry, he maybe glad to get out.

Too much weather and then the earthquake destroyed a lot of tanks in sth island so lots of Savi Blanc heading to HB to get processed pushing out local production, how bad,

NZ Wine

Thanks to those growers who have responded so promptly to the questionnaire we sent out on Monday concerning issues arising from vintage 2017 in Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. For those who have not yet responded it is not too late, so please reply if you have the opportunity.

It is clear from the feedback to date that there are significant issues arising from this vintage this will not be a surprise to anyone. While some growers report all their grapes have been (or will be) harvested, for many others this is not the case. Crop losses vary from 5% to 100% of production with the average to date being 37% for those who have replied. Clearly losses of this scale will have a significant emotional and financial toll on the affected growers.

In response to the survey results, please note the following:
A full report on the survey results will be presented at the next NZW Board meeting on 27 April. This report will include a summary of the many suggestions we have received from growers.

We have had further discussions with MPI concerning the issues that have occurred and have also initiated discussions with banks to ensure they are aware that some growers (and wineries) will face increased financial pressures this year.

We have spoken with the Rural Support Trust and urge growers who are feeling additional stress to reach out to the Trust for support. The Trust has a lot of experience supporting the farming community in tough times and does a great job. The contact number is 0800 787 254 or have a look at their website http://www.rural-support.org.nz/. Alternatively you can contact me and I will point you in the right direction.

If you are facing additional financial pressures this year, we urge you to contact your accountant and bank as soon as possible so you can keep them informed of the situation you face. If they are aware of your situation they can help you to work out the best way to work through it if they are not aware, they cant help.

We have had a number of enquiries re provisional tax payments. Our advice is to contact your accountant as this will need to be assessed on an individual basis.

Finally, even if you might not have been affected personally, your neighbours might have been, so we would urge all growers (and the wider wine community) to support each other.

HIGH PRIORITY: Vintage 17 Review Meeting Wednesday, 12 April - 5pm Vidal (upstairs)

Vintage '17 has been extremely difficult for many HBWG members, both grower & winery. Recognising that, HBWG is convening a meeting for members to air their experiences & concerns and look for solutions.

NZ Winegrowers' CEO Philip Gregan will be in attendance and will give some early feedback on the recent grower loss survey.

East Coast Rural Support Trust will also be represented and will give an overview of support available.

Please come ready for a full and frank exchange of views!

... been travelling back and forth through the Waipara valley many times lately ...past the miles upon miles of glorious grapevines ...over the last three weeks they've received a serious quantity of rain at absolutely the wrong end of the growing cycle ...

I can hear the botrytis growing and spawning , and the berries popping and oozing , covered in fungal filaments ...

... oh dear .... bugger !

A family friend gave up on his block for the year before Debbie chucked down another 100 mls. No point harvesting stuff that won't be any use to the vintners.

What is reported in the San Francisco Chronicle is something he might get away with in New Zealand. But in the States he ends up chained. Good to see the chains.