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Trinity Hill ownership in doubt

Trinity Hill vineyards (Photo: Trinity Hill Wines)

The Otago Daily Times reported that wine fund manager Charles Banks could be removed as an owner of Trinity Hill (tastings) if he is found not to be a person of good character.

Banks has pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud in the US as a former financial adviser to NBA player Tim Duncan. The ODT claimed that Banks is the majority shareholder of Terroir Capital LLC which manages the Terroir Winery Fund, owner of many wineries in several countries, including Trinity Hill in Hawke’s Bay, which it purchased in 2014 after approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

The purchase of Trinity Hill was conditional on the fact that the individuals with control of the Terroir Winery Fund (including Banks) remain of good character. In light of Banks guilty plea the OIO is considering whether Banks is still “of good character”.

Trinity Hill CEO, Michael Henley, advised that the fraud case is in no way related to Terroir or Trinity Hill and Charles Banks is not a majority shareholder in the Terroir Winery Fund and resigned as CEO of Terroir Capital LLC 6-8 months ago. He has also resigned as a director of Trinity Hill. At that time Kevin McGee, who has been Chairman of Trinity Hill since 2014, was made CEO of the management company.

Banks is due to be sentenced on June 26th. If Banks is deemed not to be a man of good character and his resignation from any management position involving the Terroir Wine Fund is not sufficient for the OIO, then it would appear that there is a chance that Trinity Hill may be in the market for a new owner.

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