Investment Proves far from smart – Hutt News – 11 October 2011
EDITOR’S VIEW: Local people deserve answers on why a Hutt Mana Charitable Trust-owned company with a good market share and tax advantage went bust.
According to liquidators, EnergySmart’s assets won’t cover an estimated $1.63 million in liabilities.
There’s a three-page list of creditors, and likely to be the end of that line is the trust, which chairman Ian Hutchings admits might have to wave goodbye to the thick end of $2m.
It is to his credit that Mr Hutchings has fronted up to reporters’ questions, but there are more to come.
HMCT’s prime role is to take expert advice, and get the best return for the people of the Hutt Valley, Porirua and North Wellington on more than $35m invested after the old energy board carve-up.
Its forays into investments outside managed funds and bank deposits – namely EnergySmart and Smartlinx3 – have proved disastrous.
Worse, former trustee John Terris – who railed against such investments and the dabbling of trustees/directors in businesses outside their expertise – earned scorn from fellow trustees in the triennium ending October 2010.
But his advice has proved to be right on the button.
Speaking out cost him his job with Parliamentary Services – as the story on our website huttnews.co.nz details.
It’s not good enough from trustees, who in 2010 claimed a total of $114,000 in remuneration.
Using an official trust report to the Charities Commission, which describes five “part- timers” working an average total of five hours a week, a Hutt News reader worked out that’s an average – “and outrageous” – pay of $438 an hour.
It can only be hoped the report filed with the Commission is a mistake, but it doesn’t help that meetings of the trust are closed to public and media scrutiny.
Many of these decisions pre-date three new trustees elected last year, but they’ll also be in the gun as people seek assurance there will be no more bad news regarding public money.
Simon Edwards (Editor): Hutt News, 11 October 2011