MIDDAY UPDATE: Alleged forex scam leads to criminal charges

Jan 23 (BusinessDesk) - The Serious Fraud Office has laid criminal charges against an Auckland foreign exchange dealer whose alleged offending bears similarities to that of David Ross, whose Ross Asset Management declared false income gains to clients before its liquidation late last year.

Fifteen charges have been laid against 42 year-old Rene Alan Chalmers, who the SFO says misreported clients' financial positions by around $4 million, and misappropriated $837,046 for personal use in 2011 and 2012.

In Chalmers and an associate registered Chalmers Cameron Investments Limited (CCIL) in 2007. The company went into voluntary liquidation last May, owing investors approximately US$5 million.

The SFO alleges that "although investors believed they were giving Mr Chalmers their money for the express purpose of forex trading, Chalmers was using investor funds contrary to the agreement(s) under which they were accepted and reporting false gains to investors via monthly or quarterly investor statements."

Kiwi keeps gaining against all but Japanese currency

The New Zealand dollar continued to rise against most of its major trading partner currencies this morning, with the exception of the Japanese yen, which continues to find new levels in global markets following last night's Bank of Japan announcement of a looser inflation target and more quantitative easing.

At 12.30pm, the kiwi was trading at 84.15 US cents, from 84.04 US cents at 8am, and had fallen to 74.42 yen from 74.51 yen.

The local currency was up against the Australian dollar, trading at 79.69 Australian cents from 79.43 Australian cents at 8am, was up marginally against the Euro at 63.19 from 63.09 euro cents and the UK pound, at 53.14 pence from 52.94 pence.

Comvita expands olive extract plantations

Comvita, which uses produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, has bought an 85 hectare organic olive estate with potential to expand its production of olive leaf extracts by 130 percent over the next five years.

The price paid for Organic Olives (Aust) by Comvita's Australian subsidiary is undisclosed. The estate comprises some 7,000 certified organic olive trees, with room for further plantings, and is in Coominya, on the shores of Lake Wivenhoe in south-eastern Queensland.

The company recently reported clinical trials at Auckland University's Liggins Institute had found a beneficial impact from its olive leaf extracts on secretion of insulin and the action of insulin in overweight men. The research has yet to be peer-reviewed and published, but is expected to boost global interest in the product.

"We're also scoping the possibility of building on this science, with additional clinical trials," said Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett.

(BusinessDesk)

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