Green Acres victims turn to MPs for help

"We are hoping the MPs can help us talk to the banks and finance companies to help put the loan repayments on hold at least until after the matter is resolved with Green Acres…The amount is small to the money lender, but to some of us, it is everything we own."

The New Zealand Herald
January 25, 2008

Green Acres victims turn to MPs for help
Lincoln Tan

Desperate defrauded Green Acres franchisees, some of whom are running out of money, are holding meetings with politicians to try to get their money back.

Core members of Franchise Watch, a group formed to look after their interests, will meet Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter at his electorate office tomorrow and others will talk to National MP Pansy Wong at her office this afternoon.

"We no longer have an income, we cannot run the business we have bought, we owe money that the finance companies are putting pressure on us to return, and we are hearing nothing more from Green Acres," victim Loui Zhang said.

"We don't know what to do, so we really hope our ministers and MPs can help."

The defrauded franchisees were mainly Chinese and Indian immigrants who paid between $21,000 and $25,000 for non-existent Green Acres ironing businesses from the company's former master franchisee Keith Lapham.

"We are hoping the MPs can help us talk to the banks and finance companies to help put the loan repayments on hold at least until after the matter is resolved with Green Acres," Ms Zhang said. "The amount is small to the money lender, but to some of us, it is everything we own."

Many had borrowed to buy the franchises, and some now have no income to repay the debt. Some have already made their complaints known to Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel at a meeting earlier this month, but Ms Zhang said the victims were hoping for these other politicians to give them "concrete answers".

Labour Chinese electorate candidate Sam Yau said he would help arrange for a lawyer to give free legal advice to those franchisees who approached him directly.

Serious Fraud Office director Grant Liddell has said investigations would "probably be quite lengthy". The SFO is believed to have questioned Lapham on Tuesday on his role in the alleged scam.


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Risks: Follow the money: franchising re-distributes (not creates) wealth, Immigrants as prey, Fraud, Outright scam, New Zealand, 20080125 Green Acres

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