'Hellish' wait ends as Kloogh in court

Barry Kloogh outside the Dunedin District Court yesterday. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Barry Kloogh outside the Dunedin District Court yesterday. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Failed financial adviser and company director Barry Kloogh was alleged to have defrauded investors of at least $15.7 million, in a court appearance a former investor called the end of a "hellish" nine-month wait.

"I wanted to make sure he looked me in the eye," the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said after the man she trusted with her money appeared in the Dunedin District Court, while she watched from the public gallery.

Kloogh entered no plea to 12 charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office, and was remanded on bail until March 12.

As well as individual charges of forgery, theft by a person in special relationship and obtaining by deception, Kloogh faced representative charges alleging false accounting, making false statements by a promoter, theft by a person in special relationship, and obtaining by deception.

The various charges have maximum penalties of between three and 10 years’ imprisonment.

The former client was one of about a dozen people watching silently as their former investment adviser was called.

Kloogh said nothing other than to alert the court that the address he had been bailed to was incorrect as he had recently moved, and sought to correct the documents.

He made no comment to media as he left the courthouse, before being driven away.

An SFO statement after Kloogh’s appearance gave further details of the extent of Kloogh’s business dealings, and how much money might be lost.

"Mr Kloogh provided his financial advisory services through several companies of which he was the sole director and shareholder," a spokesman said.

"He had approximately 2000 active clients in May 2019."

That date was when the SFO executed search warrants at his home and business premises.

In August, two firms operated by Kloogh (57), Financial Planning Ltd and Impact Enterprises Ltd, went into liquidation.

The official assignee’s first report into the liquidation of FPL and IEL estimated that more than 170 clients were owed between $12million and $14million.

The SFO yesterday said its charges alleged Kloogh had defrauded investors of at least $15.7million.

Charging documents allege Kloogh stole almost $630,000 belonging to two investors, and included a representative charge alleging $15million belonging to a number of investors was stolen.

Other SFO allegations include that Kloogh altered bank statements and portfolio valuations, made fictitious investments, and placed money into accounts other than those where he said he would deposit the funds. The SFO also alleged that Kloogh used loaned money to repay investors rather than buy real estate, as he had represented.

Kloogh was ordered to surrender his passport and not apply for a new one, remain resident at his bail address, and to have no contact with investors in his failed companies unless through the official assignee.

Affected investors have formed a group to offer each other support and advice following the demise of Kloogh’s companies.

A spokeswoman said investors did not wish to comment at the moment, but urged anyone who believed they had lost money to join the group.

Several Dunedin lawyers and advisers are helping the group on a pro bono basis.

Spokesman Geoff Mirkin said the group would continue to work on behalf of investors as the case proceeded through court.

Kloogh began his financial services career in 1983, and offered advisory services through several companies, most recently trading as Breathe Financial.

He offered investment advice, obtained insurance policies, and assisted clients to reduce debt.

 

Kloogh case

12 charges, some representative.

At least $15.7million allegedly stolen.

2000 active clients at May 2019.

No plea, remanded on bail.

 

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz