New Zealand FX trader pleads “not guilty” to running $7m Ponzi scheme

Kelvin Clive Wood has pleaded “not guilty” at the Auckland District Court to charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’ and ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’.

Less than two months after New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) brought charges against Kelvin Clive Wood, the Forex trader has pleaded “not guilty” to charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’ and ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’. The update on the case was provided by the SFO earlier today.

Wood is alleged to have facilitated foreign exchange and trading services through two companies – Forex (NZ) Limited and Forex NZ 2000 Limited. His clients placed money with him through his companies for the purpose of fixed interest term deposits, the purchase of foreign currency, general investment and foreign exchange trading purposes. Clients invested on the basis that their principal was not at risk.

According to the SFO allegations, the defendant operated his Ponzi scheme from January 2010 to May 2017 – using new investors’ funds to pay other investors their reported gains, or to refund their principal investment. The SFO estimates that 18 investors lost at least $7 million as a result of the defendant’s offending.

The Financial Markets Authority referred the case to the SFO to investigate in May 2017.

Mr Wood has been remanded on bail for a case review hearing at the Auckland District Court on March 20, 2019.

The action against Wood marks the continued efforts by the New Zealand SFO to prosecute Forex fraud. In July this year, the SFO confirmed that Lance Jack Ryan was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail, with a minimum non-parole period of three years and nine months, for charges brought by the SFO. Mr Ryan had pleaded guilty earlier to charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’, ‘False accounting’, ‘Forgery’, ‘Reproducing a document with intent to deceive’ and ‘Theft by person in special relationship’.

Lance Jack Ryan, also known as Lance Jared Thompson, used Forex platform BlackfortFX as a façade to persuade more than 900 investors, who were mostly from the Christchurch region, to invest about $8.3 million in the Ponzi scheme.