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Former Rockforte Finance principals sentenced in fraud case

Thursday 24th October 2013

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The last two defendants in the fraud case against failed lender Rockforte Finance have been sentenced today in the High Court in Gisborne.

The Serious Fraud Office said former director Nigel O'Leary was sentenced to four years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to nine charges including theft by a person in a special relationship, obtaining by deception, false statement by promoter and false accounting.

Former director John Gardner was sentenced to 11 months' home detention and 200 hours of community work after pleading guilty to five charges, including theft by person in special relationship, obtaining by deception and false statement by promoter, the SFO said.

The white-collar crime investigator alleged a significant portion of investor money was used to fund the directors' personal business interests in Gisborne Haulage and Michael Ward 1969, which operated the Jean Jones label before the chain was sold by its receivers. Investor losses amount to some $3.8 million.

"Although Rockforte investors were covered by the Crown retail deposit guarantee scheme, the fraudulent activities of Mr O'Leary and his co-directors led to the consequential failure of several businesses," SFO director Julie Read said in a statement. "This has had a significant impact on the Gisborne community and resulted in the loss of financial investments and jobs."

Former director and co-accused Colin Simpson was sentenced to 11 months' home detention and 200 hours of community work last month.

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