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Burglars break into leading fund manager's office

Burglars have broken into one of the country's more successful and most secretive fund managers offices and stolen sensitive material about its 27,000 clients and operations.

Thursday, November 22nd 2001, 6:01PM

Burglars have broken into one of the country's more successful and most secretive fund managers offices and stolen sensitive material about its 27,000 clients and operations.

The break-in occurred in New Zealand Funds Management's offices in the ANZ Centre in downtown Auckland last weekend.

The building is also the home of other financial services firms including BT Funds Management, ANZ Funds Management and CS First Boston.

NZ Funds director Gerald Siddall says that the burglars stole back up tapes which include registry information for all its clients, plus some details about the company's systems.

He says the burglars used force to remove the equipment from the offices.

Although the burglars have taken sensitive information it is probably of little use as the computers were only half way through the back up when the theft took place.

"(The information) will be corrupted in some way," he says. "It certainly won't be readable."

Siddall says it is a mystery who would commit such a crime.

It would become obvious who it was if the thief used the information to contact NZ Funds' clients (which include all Money Managers' clients).

Siddall doesn't believe the crooks were trying to stop NZ Funds. If that was their intent they would have smashed all the computers.

The third theory is that a competitor, eager to learn how NZ Funds works, organised the crime.

Siddall again rules this out.

"To say it was more sinister (than bad luck) would be to disparage the ethics of my competitors - that I would never do.

"I don't see it as a competitive issue against us."

Siddall also dimisses the industrial espionage theory on the grounds that NZ Funds' systems, while very good, aren't necessarily the key to the business.

He says the success of the business lies in the intellectual capital in the firm.

"They would have to open our heads to find that out."

If people can break into a sophisticated building with high security and take this information then it's an issue for the whole financial services industry, he says.

Siddall's concerns are about privacy of client information.

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