Not long after the Cadbury chocolate factory closed its doors in 2018, Barry Kloogh came visiting.
The Dunedin-based financial adviser, who loved European cars, holidays, fine dining and expensive clothes, also loved to talk.
‘’What are you going to do with all your money,’’ Kloogh put to Craig France, who had worked as a maintenance engineer at the Dunedin factory for 37 years.
That was the last time he saw Kloogh, who appeared for sentencing at the Dunedin District Court on Friday for running a ponzi scheme and duping investors of at least $15.7 million.
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Kloogh was jailed by Judge Michael Crosbie for eight years and 10 months, with a minimum non-parole period of five years and four months.
France lost a sizeable sum to Kloogh, but decided not to invest his redundancy payout.
Karyn Churcher also got duped – at the worst time. Her husband, Chris, died just days before Kloogh’s business was raided.
When Chris Churcher was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, the couple took the initial trauma payment, an inheritance and savings to Kloogh, who developed a financial plan for $361,000.
They later received another $450,000, when Chris Churcher was given just two years to live, which was also invested with Kloogh.
That money was earmarked to give Karyn Churcher a regular allowance and money for their blended families.
‘’I’m glad Chris never knew [the money was gone]. He died thinking everything was OK.’’
Both the Churchers and France believed their investments were going directly to a financial platform, but instead were going to Kloogh.
He simply changed the name of bank accounts under his name.
France is grateful he didn’t put his Cadbury payout with Kloogh, who he first invested with two decades ago.
However, he was still preparing to write-off $200,000 – a sizeable chunk of his retirement nest-egg.
’You can’t cry over spilt milk, I’m never going to get it back. It’s gone. That’s it.’’
Rather than a dream overseas trip with partner Megan Fairley, France now faces the prospect of working longer and postponing retirement.
Other victims had already retired and were relying on those savings.
France, who met with liquidators and auditors, said some of Kloogh’s 170-odd victims had lost ‘’big money’’.
‘’I believe he has spent a lot of it, but not all of it.’’
Kloogh appeared to love the finer things in life. Nice clothes, overseas holidays, fine dining and cars. He really loved European cars, French said.
‘’His first car wasn’t that flash, then he started on getting into the Mercedes.’’
He would pull up in the vehicle outside the couple’s Musselburgh home, as ‘’you don’t go to his office, he will come to your home’’.
‘’He has a cup of coffee, he yaks away asking what you want to achieve.’’
Dunedin businessman Barry Kloogh walks from the Dunedin District Court on February 20, 2020, after appearing on a raft of charges following a Serious Fraud Office investigation.
France, who started working for Cadbury as an apprentice in his teens, recalled meeting Kloogh after he came recommended from his bank.
He had applied for a mortgage and needed help with insurance. Kloogh ‘’just made you feel at ease’’.
‘’One of his things he was saying was there were no fees, and ‘if you don’t make money I don’t make money’.”
It would prove prophetic.
France put in an initial $90,000, which was added to and withdrawn from over the years, usually to help with major work on the couple’s large home.
The first time he withdrew money from the account for house repairs there were no issues, but on the second occasion, “I had to hunt him down’’.
It took some three months to get the money, with Kloogh offering several excuses.
“I thought, ‘I don’t like the look of this’.’’
When Cadbury closed its doors, France thought about withdrawing the money to help build some houses.
He was at work when he heard a rumour Kloogh was in financial difficulty. France was soon on the phone, but got nothing but a full answerphone.
Fairley, who also worked at Cadbury, she was thankful she never invested with Kloogh, but that wasn’t from a lack of trying from him.
“He wanted me as well.’’
She described Kloogh as “charming”, but was also angry at how he had betrayed those people who welcomed him into their homes.
“It is awful.’’
France said he was now short of $200,000 for his retirement. “That’s another 20 years I am going to have to work, to retire on the same amount. My retirement is not going to be the same.’’
And he had a simple message for Kloogh.
‘’I hope it haunts you for the rest of your frigging life.’’