September 2, 2008
In another New Zealand Herald article by Lincoln Tan (Victims of scam want Government help) the aggrieved former franchisees:
About 100 franchisees are seeking financial assistance to help them bring Green Acres to court – which is estimated to cost about $140,000 – after Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel said at a meeting on Sunday that it had “declined all the demands for compensation” and claimed Keith Lapham was an independent business owner, and not one of its employees.
There was no immediate indication that aid would be forthcoming although the Minister meeting with the former franchisees is a good sign.
Ms Dalziel said the Serious Fraud Office, which is investigating the case, would be completing its investigations soon, and a decision on whether to press charges was about two weeks away.
These actions also involve a request to the lender to void their loan obligations:
Lawyers for the defrauded franchisees issued a letter of demand to Green Acres asking for the return of the money paid to Mr Lapham, and for loans for the purchases of the bogus businesses made through the company’s financing arm, FBL Finance, to be nullified.
Mr. Tyrone Pilacan, an immigrant from the Philippines, is quoted as saying he had recently lost his job and was struggling to meet the $800 monthly repayment to the bank.
March 13, 2008
In a recent New Zealand story, it seems the people who own both the Green Acres system and the bank that loaned into a +200 victim ($5-million) scam want the losers to make a decision:
…sign a “rescue package” or warned that the company would commence proceedings to get back the $25,000 its financial arm, FBL Finance, had paid on his behalf to former area manager Keith Lapham.
Another bank seems to also say one thing and do another:
…Finance Now Ltd, also issued a final notice to about 30 Green Acres franchisees as it too sought repayments for about $150,000.
In franchising, it is not uncommon for banks and franchisors to work very closely; Even including unauthorized withdraws from business accounts.
“The company had taken one instalment out from my account for $700 to pay the loan and I immediately had to cancel that bank account so they cannot continue to take out any more.”
He has written to Green Acres asking for the amount to be refunded, but said he had not had a response.
Meanwhile, since Dec 2008, the police have been doing exactly what about the missing cash?
Yesterday, Serious Fraud Office chief executive Grant Liddell told the Herald that investigations into the Green Acres case were ongoing and that a decision had yet to be reached of whether any charges would be laid [my emphasis].