The fund manager who shocked the market by closing his Altair Asset Management funds and returning the cash to investors, citing an imminent property calamity and market correction, is embroiled in a dispute surrounding his mother’s share portfolio.
In a case proceeding through the NSW Supreme Court, Philip Parker, who is Altair’s chairman and chief investment officer, is one of the defendants named in an action stemming from claims brought by his elderly mother, Faye Mary Parker and F M Parker Pty Ltd.
The action and its numerous cross-claims were set off when Mrs Parker filed suit against Attis Capital, its director David Reynolds, and Altair Assets and Pepsec, which is an entity linked to Mr Parker and Altair.
The dispute centres around a loan obtained by Pepsec on June 11, 2015, from Attis Capital, against which Pepsec providedMrs Parker’s shares as collateral. Attis Capital alleges that it exercised its right to sell those shares at the instruction of Mr Parker who denies giving these instructions. Mrs Parker argues that she never approved the transfer and sale of her stock and she wants her shares back.
Mr Parker refused to comment on Wednesday; he has previously maintained shuttering the business was predicated on a bearish market call. Last night, his lawyers said the court action had nothing to do with Mr Parker’s surprise decision to close his funds and repay investors.
“It appears that the plaintiff” – Mrs Parker – “is the victim of a fraud perpetrated by the second defendant” – Pepsec – “and the third cross defendant” – Mr Parker, it is alleged by Mr Reynolds and Attis. Mr Parker denies the fraud allegations. Pepsec and Mr Parker, in response, claim wrongdoing by Mr Reynolds and Attis and, that Mrs Parker did sign the transfer forms.
Papers filed on behalf of Attis and Mr Reynolds detail how $3 million was incrementally advanced to Pepsec, the entity linked to Altair and Mr Parker. Mr Parker told Mr Reynolds in June 2015 that Pepsec needed $1 million for the purpose of Altair working capital.
“Mr Parker instead used part of that money for his own use and benefit,” the documents allege.
Attis advanced $1 million to Mr Parker, and Attis intended to reconstitute the portfolio of shares when Mr Parker repaid the $1 million.
Mr Parker directed Attis to retain the balance of the proceeds and trade it, according to Attis and Mr Reynolds.
Moreover, “Mr Parker directed Attis to split any profits from that trading on a 50-50 basis between Mr Parker and Attis,” the documents submitted for Attis say.
Around October 14, 2015, $1.96 million was deposited in to Attis’ account with ANZ by F M Parker Pty Ltd.
Attis advanced a further $1 million to Pepsec from the $1.96 million at the direction of Mr Parker, the same documents say, and Mr Parker directed Attis to retain the balance and trade it.
Around December 22, 2015, $2.97 million was deposited to Attis, which advanced a further $1 million of the $2.97 million to Pepsec.
Again, Attis retained the balance and says it was instructed to trade it and profit share any spoils.
Altair, a plaintiff in one of the cross-claims, alleges Attis and Mr Reynolds sold the shares and used the proceeds to fund the loan to Pepsec. Altair also alleges the balance of the proceeds have been retained by Attis and Mr Reynolds for their own benefit.
Mr Parker claims he did not sign the loan agreement and did not witness his mother’s signature. Alternatively, he did not know what he was signing as he was signing numerous documents put forward by Mr Reynolds.
In their response, Attis and Mr Reynolds say the second secured loan agreement was provided by Mr Parker, signed by his mother and Mr Reynolds. They say the mother denies having signed it and Reynolds has no recollection of having signed it.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Parker said “giving up management and performance fees and handing back cash from investments managed by us is a seminal decision, however preserving client’s assets is what all fund managers should put before their own interests.”
The case continues and is likely to be heard in September. Mrs Parker was approached for comment via her lawyer. The lawyer acting for Mr Reynolds and Attis Capital had no comment in relation to the proceedings.
Separately, Australian Securities and Investments Commission documents show that Altair Assets director John Milne Hall resigned from the board April 7, 2017. Mr Hall submitted his resignation to Mr Parker, where he told Mr Parker that his reason for resigning was a lack of information.
“The principal reason for my resignation is that for the past three or more years I have not been provided with sufficient information in relation to the conduct of the business of Altair Assets Ltd to discharge my duty as a non-executive director to monitor the conduct of the company’s business and to intervene where appropriate.”
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