Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 29th 2013 Contents A21
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand---A New
Zealand man has pleaded guilty to
running a US$300 million Ponzi scheme,
the country's largest ever.
Former Wellington financial adviser
David Ross pleaded guilty Thursday to
five charges of false accounting and
theft. The 63-year-old has been jailed
pending his sentencing in October.
Regulators say 1,200 investors lost
paper returns of more than 380 million
New Zealand dollars ($296 million) in
the scheme. Serious Fraud Office acting
manager Graham Gill said their out-of-
pocket losses were at least NZ$115
million. Ross first began managing
funds in 1989. Regulators last year
suspended his authorisation to act as a
financial adviser and his company, Ross
Asset Management, was forced into
Gill said Ross reported returns on
clients' investments which never
Guilty plea in US$300m New Zealand Ponzi scheme
Minister of Finance Larry Howai said
yesterday that the numbers for the upcom-
ing September 9 budget were still being
finalised, but he expected higher expen-
diture in the current 2013 fiscal year than
"We expect it to increase, because we
have some expenses to settle."
Last year s budget, presented on October
1, allocated expenditure of $58.4 billion.
When asked to give an estimated margin
of increase, Howai said he could not.
"I ll say it in the budget. We re still final-
ising some of the numbers right now...It
will be larger because there are a number
of outstanding bills to be settled so our
intention is to make sure those are settled."
When asked to elaborate on which min-
istries had outstanding settlements, Howai
said it was "across the board."
Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon
at the opening of the Operations and Shared
Services Company Limited in Chaguanas,
Howai said there were "VAT payments and
other costs incurred that haven t been set-
tled" which he said he would try to "bring
up to date" as far as he could.
"The way in which we do it will be to
make sure we clear up a lot of the back log."
He said he was still waiting on the exact
numbers from the Board of Inland Revenue.
When asked about outstanding money
to contractors, Howai said he would make
it available, provided ministries could justify
He said sometimes complaints about
overdue payments to contractors were valid,
but other times, there were lingering ques-
tions for some requested payments.
"There are quite a number where some-
times change orders are made and variations
are made, but its word of mouth. And it
becomes difficult for the Ministry to verify
whether it was properly authorised and so
"We wouldn t want to release any funding
until we know that these things are properly
verified and that the work was done, and
done to the standard we want it to."
He added things had to be properly doc-
umented before payments were made, and
various ministries would have to verify the
payment requests before funds are made
"We re not just going to say Here are
the funds. " Howai said the focus of the
upcoming budget will be to grow and expand
"We ve had growth over the last four
quarters and we re expecting similarly this
quarter that we have growth."
He said the energy sector was challenging
this past year due to maintenance work,
but the non-energy sector had done very
"It has expanded at a pretty rapid clip,
well over two percent. I expect that momen-
tum will continue during the course of the
He said because of the growth in the
non-energy sector, tax earnings were more
than originally budgeted.
"As of the end of June, the non-energy
sector had paid over more than $1 billion
more than we had originally anticipated, so
the growth is there, and this budget, the
intention is to continue to solidify that
growth, to see it continue to accelerate, and
then take some judicious measures to diver-
Asked to address rumours that diesel fuel
would see an increase in cost, Howai laughed
and said "you have to wait and see."
"Everything is under review, but no deci-
sions have been made as yet."
Howai on 2013 budget:
We intend to settle
Group Head of
cut the ribbon
The price of oil climbed to its highest in more
than two years yesterday as the US edged closer
to taking action against Syria for the alleged use
of chemical weapons.
US benchmark oil for October delivery rose
US$1.09, or 1 per cent, to US$110.10 a barrel on
the New York Mercantile Exchange. That s its highest
closing price since May 3, 2011.
Earlier, oil climbed as high as US$112.24.
Oil has surged 27 per cent since touching a low
for the year of US$86.68 on April 17. Political unrest
in the Middle East and the threat of US intervention
in Syria s civil war have been big factors behind
the price increase. Neither country is a major oil
exporter, but traders are concerned that the violence
could spread to more important oil-exporting coun-
tries or disrupt major oil transport routes.
"The market is very concerned that if the US
did carry out a missile strike or some kind of military
action that it could pull in Iraq and other neigh-
bouring states in the Middle East," said Dan Heck-
man, a national investment consultant, who spe-
cialises in commodities, at US Bank Wealth
The UN s special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi,
said Wednesday that there was evidence that some
kind of chemical "substance" had been used in an
attack that may have killed more than 1,000 people
near Damascus. Brahimi also said that any strike
against Syria needed to gain approval from the 15-
member UN Security Council.
Global supply worries are also boosting prices.
Libya has cut exports by at least 1 million barrels
a day due to production outages and labour conflicts
at shipping ports. That is a more likely driver of
the recent surge, according to analysts at JBC Energy
When Libya s oil production stopped completely
during the revolution in 2011, oil rose by US$20 a
barrel over the span of two weeks.
While reports of ample global supplies were
recently the norm, JBC Energy said current devel-
opments---such as low spare capacity in Saudi Ara-
bia, stockpiles falling in the US, disappointing supply
developments around the world and signs of an
improving global economy---pointed to tighter mar-
Many analysts believe that the move in oil prices
is most pronounced in the buildup to any attack.
Once the US has carried out the strike, traders will
turn their focus on issues such as global oil supply.
In past Middle East conflicts, oil prices rose in
anticipation of action, then fell quickly when the
conflict actually started.
In the run-up to the Gulf War, oil prices more
than doubled from under US$20 in July of 1990
to US$40 a barrel in October of that year. But on
the day that the US started bombing---January 17,
1991---oil fell 33 per cent, down to US$21 per bar-
rel.A similar pattern emerged as the Iraq War drew
near in 2003. Prices rose from US$31 a barrel at
the beginning of the year to nearly US$40 in March
in the days before the invasion began. But by the
end of March, they had fallen to US$29 a barrel.
Oil climbs to highest
in more than 2 years
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