GOLD Coast-based investment group Amma Private Equity, which raised more than $180 million for high-risk technology firms such as Guvera, has collapsed.
Liquidators were appointed to Amma this week after a winding-up lawsuit was launched by the family of an 82-year-old farmer suffering dementia, whom a court found had been exploited when he invested $6.6 million into music-streamer Guvera in 2014.
Liquidators Glenn Spooner and Daniel Juratowitch of Cor Cordis have attempted to contact Amma’s founder and sole director Darren Herft.
Amma once held itself out as a firm with “global connections”, and used accountants to try and steer their clients toward technology investments that they hoped would be successful but were also high-risk.
It wooed the accountants by offering subsidised seminars in exotic locations – including at five-star hotels in Dubai and Beverly Hills. Accountants were also presented with equity in the technology investments.
Amma raised $180 million for Guvera, which was also run by Mr Herft. And Amma charged more than $20 million for the fundraising, according to Guvera accounts.
But Guvera stopped broadcasting music last year and failed to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Other companies in Amma’s portfolio included a new payments app, and a computer game designer.
Amma, which had its own investors, is understood to have ceased trading. While the fallout from Guvera had hurt Amma’s model, the killer blow came when a Federal Court this year ruled in favour of elderly farmer Keith Messer.
Mr Messer’s daughter had taken legal action on his behalf, with the court finding Amma had engaged in “unconscionable” conduct. It “would have been apparent” to any Amma representative dealing with Mr Messer that he “had a significant cognitive impairment” in 2014, Justice Jennifer Davies found.
Amma had not paid the $8.139 million court-ordered settlement from August, and Mr Messer’s daughter in November filed a winding up action in Victoria’s Supreme Court that was finalised this week.
No one appeared for Amma in the winding-up application, according to the Supreme Court records.
A Courier-Mail call to Mr Herft’s mobile phone suggested he was overseas, and email queries have also been sent.
Mr Herft had earlier told The Courier-Mail that Amma would not defend the winding-up matter and it did not think Mr Messer had been suffering from dementia.