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New Zealand Sentences Ross to 10 Years in Jail for Ponzi Scheme

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Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand financial adviser David Ross was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in jail today for running the nation’s biggest-ever Ponzi scheme.

Ross, 63, was sentenced in Wellington District Court after pleading guilty to eight charges including false accounting and theft, the Serious Fraud Office said in an e-mailed statement. Large portions of client portfolios managed by closely-held Ross Asset Management Ltd. were fictitious and overstated investment positions by more than NZ$385 million ($319 million), the SFO said. The total loss to investors was more than NZ$115 million, it said.

“More than 1,200 client accounts were affected by Mr Ross’s scheme, so his offending has had a devastating impact on many lives,” SFO Director Julie Read said in the statement. “The financial losses are not only significant to those individuals, but they will have a flow-on effect as those investors’ dealings in the New Zealand economy are impacted.”

The SFO and the Financial Markets Authority brought charges against Ross in June, alleging he ran a Ponzi scheme after Ross Asset Management collapsed in November last year.

About 45 New Zealand finance companies failed between 2006 and 2011, according to the report of a parliament inquiry published in October 2011. The failures -- either receiverships or debt moratoriums agreed with investors -- put at risk NZ$6 billion of deposits and affected at least 150,000 people, the report said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Brockett in Wellington at mbrockett1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net

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