Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Argo Investments intentionally falsifies its NTA

Argo Investments (ARG.AX) has repeatedly committed securities fraud by reporting inflated NTA and claiming that its shares trade at a discount to NTA. ARG has admitted to making such representations to financial advisers, deceiving clients into feeding money into a scheme actually priced at a significant premium to NTA. ARG currently inflates its reported NTA by 14% by using "pre-tax" estimates, based on the "opinion" that they can exclude taxes due on unrealized capital gains, yet still include the full effect of the gains themselves, effectively reporting a hypothetical NTA in a world where taxes have been abolished.

But this is not a matter of opinion. Even if criminals are of the "opinion" that one plus one equals three, that does not them the right to use such maths in their books. This is fraud, regardless of the criminals' "opinion". Net means net, i.e. after costs such as tax, regardless of what the fraudsters opine. The value of something is what you can sell it for, not what you can sell it for assuming there were no such thing as taxes. ARG goes one step further than other criminal LICs by not even including the words "pre-tax" in their NTA disclosure documents, which is blatantly illegal, as it gives the impression they are disclosing their actual NTA when they are not. ASIC does nothing about this deliberate recurring misrepresentation.

ASIC could just mandate that funds have to report their actual NTA and are forbidden to use deliberately deceptive metrics such as "pre-tax NTA", with or without "explanatory" footnotes. But ASIC is completely useless, and makes no attempt at ensuring disclosure is accurate or presents a fair view, merely being concerned with quantity and encouraging frequent fraudulent disclosure. Australian investors can't even expect something as fundamental as an accurate and unskewed view of the value of a fund's assets in disclosure documents. Instead investors are given director's "opinions" of what the criminals think the assets should be valued at.

The idea that net assets can ignore taxes is ludicrous, it has absolutely no basis in reality. Neither does it make any sense to doublecount upcoming dividends as a receivable in net assets. But since criminals are freely allowed to define their own reality in Australia, anything goes. Over the last year more and more funds have been purposefully ramped above NTA, so that a fraudulent profit from subsequent share issuing to scammed granny investors can be achieved.

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