SFO opens investigation after pensioner found she didn’t own her home

A former Lamborghini-driving businessman whose alleged schemes have cost Auckland homeowners and investors millions is now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

A spokesman for the office announced yesterday: “An SFO investigation in relation to the affairs of Gerard Peters and others is ongoing.”

The Herald on Sunday understands SFO investigators conducted searches of several properties associated with the Peters family last week.

The Herald on Sunday has previously reported on schemes allegedly run by the family that have cost investors millions and seen around a dozen Auckland properties moved into exotic ownership structures and saddled with large mortgages.

It’s alleged that brothers Gerard and Chris, as well as their mother Serene, were involved in registering companies and liaising with investors and property owners in the alleged schemes, with most activity run through their company Peters Property Holdings.

The Herald on Sundayunderstand the SFO investigation involves looking at more than $5 million in mortgage proceeds and investor funds which appear to have been transmitted offshore.

The Herald put questions to Lee Salmon Long, acting for Peters family members, about these developments – and whether Gerard Peters was intending to return to New Zealand from his present location of Malaysia to assist the SFO in their inquiries. The law firmcould not be reached.

Lee Salmon Long had earlier in the year strenuously denied any wrongdoing on behalf of its clients and issued a number of legal letters asserting unspecified inaccuracies in the Herald on Sunday’s description of property and investment transactions in the alleged scheme.

Barrister Matt Goodwin, representing Chris Peters, said: “He doesn’t accept any wrongdoing.”

The Herald on Sunday revealed 75-year-old pensioner Sandra Rolondowski was the one to raise the alarm after realising the Browns Bay flat said she had paid for and thought was mortgage-free, actually had someone elses’ name on the title and was saddled with a $1.1m mortgage to BNZ.

After she discovered the discrepancy in mid-2018 she complained to the bank which referred the matter to the police.

Police detective sergeant James Bolton took the case and the list of alleged victims widened over the next 18 months.

“It just grew from there as more people came forward. It’s big money, then you’ve got independent money with Gerard Peters that’s supposed to have taken to invest – somewhere in Singapore or wherever,” Bolton said.

In late 2020, because of the size and complexity of the case, Bolton referred the matter to the SFO – which only confirmed this week they too were formally investigating.

Rolondowski also complained to Age Concern, which investigated the matter and raised concerns that Chris Peters – who allegedly did “not appear to be affiliated with a reputable financial organisation” – told them mortgage and sale proceeds were said to have “been put on deposit overseas at 20 per cent interest with Credit Suisse or the like”.

Investors claim to have been frustrated in efforts to reclaim their funds, and in some case properties involved – including family homes – have undergone forced mortgagee sales and wiped out all the former owners’ equity.

Source: Read Full Article