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Investment banker pleads guilty to $18m fraud charges

Tuesday 2nd February 2010

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UPDATED: A former ASB investment banker has pleaded guilty to fraud charges of nearly $18 million in the country's largest employee theft.

At Auckland District Court this morning Stephen Gerard Versalko, 51, admitted three charges from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after a three-month investigation.

He admitted to defrauding 30 wealthy ASB bank clients over nine years of $17,763,110 as ASB senior investment adviser.

He was fired by ASB Bank last August and arrested a few days before Christmas.

He would have been paid an annual six-figure salary as senior investment adviser and he is now unemployed.

Versalko was remanded in custody this morning for a further court date on February 16.

His lawyer Stuart Grieve QC says Versalko recognises he faces a jail term and he has decided he would rather get on with that so bail will not be sought.

Judge Paul Gittos extended existing suppression orders which prohibit the publication of any details from the current summary of facts and the SFO has said details of how he committed the fraud could be revealed after his next court appearance.

The three charges Versalko pleaded guilty to were:

*obtained $12,958,608 from 17 ASB Bank clients by conducting 68 fraudulent transactions between October 2003 and August 2009.

*offered fictitious investment opportunities to obtain $1,074,077 in 12 fraudulent transactions between August 2000 and September 2003.

* obtained $3,730,423 from 28 ASB clients by conducting 43 fraudulent transactions between October 2003 and April 2009.

The theft is believed to be the largest employee theft in the country, surpassing the $16.9m fraud by a manager of the Otago District Health Board who was jailed for nine years - a record for a SFO prosecution.






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