The collapse of South Canterbury Finance (SCF) is one of the biggest New Zealand stories of the last decade. The sweep of events, from Timaru to the Beehive, include some of the most revealing moments on issues critical to this country – everything from poor governance and systemic issues in the finance sector, through to the structural risks this exposed and the costs it ultimately presented to all New Zealanders. There has not yet been a book that has attempted to tell this story, certainly not one from an `insider’ perspective. The Billion Dollar Bonfire by Chris Lee will be the first book to do both these things. Chris tells this fascinating story as both a long-standing New Zealand financial advisor and a protagonist in the narrative. As he writes in the opening chapter, he knew Alan Hubbard personally and, from the late 1990s, had clients invest with SCF. His main motivation for writing the book, made explicit throughout, is his overriding concern that this could all happen again without significant changes to our law and the culture of the capital markets industry. The book is underpinned by substantial research: thousands of documents – including new material from OIAs and other sources – and interviews, both public and anonymous, with many of the key figures.
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