Securities Commission asked to solve Blue Chip identity crisis

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel has formally asked the Securities Commission to clarify the legal status of Blue Chip investments.

Friday, May 9th 2008, 5:50AM

by David Chaplin

Dalziel told Good Returns she recently wrote to the head of the Securities Commission, Jane Diplock, asking whether Blue Chip products would be covered under the Securities Act.

She said, for example, because some of the Blue Chip products included a buy-back option they might be caught under the Securities Act.

"What was Blue Chip? Was it covered by the Securities Act? Was it all covered by property?" Dalziel asked.

"If it was all property, why were no licensed real estate agents involved in the sale of any of the apartments? Someone's broken rules, we just don't know what rules have been broken yet."

She said for some Blue Chip investors there was also a discrepancy between what they were told and "what they signed up for".

In her letter to Diplock, Dalziel has also asked the Commission to determine if the Blue Chip case has revealed any gaps in legislation that might need remedying.

"[Blue Chip] looks like an investment, it tastes like an investment, it smells like an investment. It does not look like an ordinary property transaction to me," she said.

"I want to be properly informed about where the dividing line is between investment advice and a straight property transaction."

While property advice looks set to be excluded from the proposed revamp of the Financial Advisers Bill, Daziel said she is working "very closely" with the associate Minister of Justice, who is responsible for the real estate industry, to ensure property salespeople meet similar standards as investment advisers.

"The point is that everyone is covered by someone," she said. "If you're a lawyer you're covered by the Law Society. If you're an accountant, you're covered by accountancy rules and if you're a real estate agent you're covered by [that industry's] rules."

The Securities Commission has not yet replied to her Blue Chip queries, Dalziel said.

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