There was an interesting development in the long-running St Laurence story yesterday. St Laurence, once a darling amongst finance companies in New Zealand, collapsed in 2010 under a mountain of debt, falling liquidity and, potentially, misrepresentations. The case has been investigated by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA). However, the FMA issued this announcement yesterday. Rather than pursue a court action, based on a breach of the Securities Act 1978, the FMA has issued a formal warning to the directors and closed the file.
I am disappointed by this decision by the FMA. While it's probably the right decision from a pragmatic perspective, an important principle remains untested. Whether the directors were incompetent, negligent, unlucky or fraudulent should be determined. The answer makes a huge difference to the investors that lost millions, and, crucially, to any companies and owners that might consider any of the directors for a future appointment onto their own board.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.