SFO charges five in South Canterbury Finance probe

The total fraud alleged in the South Canterbury Finance (SCF) case is $1.7 billion, the same amount as the taxpayer bailout of the company.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed today it has laid 21 charges in the Timaru District Court against five people involved in the company’s affairs.

It wouldn’t name the individuals involved until the charges are heard before the court and any issues regarding suppression have been fully dealt with.

SFO boss Adam Feeley confirmed the total estimated value of the allegedly fraudulent transactions was about $1.7 billion, which includes an esimated $1.59 billion from entering the Crown Retail Deposits Guarantee Scheme.

South Canterbury collapsed in August 2010, eventually triggering a $1.7 billion taxpayer payout.

“The collapse of SCF was one the most significant of all the failed finance companies. The value of the fraud alleged to have been committed exceeds anything in the history of white-collar crime in New Zealand, and the time we have taken to complete this matter is a reflection of that scale,” Feeley said.

 The SFO spent 14 months investigating the company and the charges it has laid cover a variety of offences, including theft by a person in a special relationship; obtaining by deception; false statements by the promoter of a company; and false accounting.  The offences carry maximum penalties of between seven and ten years imprisonment.

“It is not appropriate at this point to comment on details of the allegations, but the investigation itself has been one of the most resource-intensive and time-consuming in recent history,” Feeley said.

For more see: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6101880/SFO-charges-five-in-South-Canterbury-Finance-probe  Story by Fiona Rotherham. Published 7 December 2011

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