Friday 16th August 2019
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A partially successful appeal will see former Viaduct Capital and Mutual Finance executive Paul Bublitz leave prison for home detention after some convictions were quashed.
Earlier this year, Bublitz was convicted of several charges of theft by a person in a special relationship and for making a false statement as company promoter. Bruce McKay and Richard Blackwood were convicted as parties to the offences.
The charges followed the collapse of the finance companies which owed $17 million and had been backed by Crown guarantees. The trio were sentenced earlier this year.
However, the Court of Appeal decided today that some of Bublitz’s convictions should be quashed and Blackwood was exonerated. McKay’s appeal was dismissed.
Rachael Reed QC returned to represent Bublitz again in the appeal court before Justices Murray Gilbert, Ed Wylie and Susan Thomas.
The judges acquitted Bublitz on two charges while dismissing appeals he had against three others. He had originally faced 49 charges at the first trial back in 2016.
The ruling means Bublitz’s sentence of three years two months' imprisonment is set aside and replaced with 11 months' home detention. This took into account the fact Bublitz had already served two and a half months of his prison sentence.
In Blackwood’s case, the court said that while it hesitated before disagreeing with the findings of the trial judge - the now-retired Justice Kit Toogood - there was a “remarkable lack of evidence” to show he was fully aware of related party provisions. Blackwood was represented by Marc Corlett QC at the appellate stage.
The judgment of the court also said that the sentence starting point for Bublitz was hard to justify, especially when compared with that of McKay.
“Mr Bublitz’s offending was partly motivated by the prospect of personal gain. However, he did not benefit. Rather, as the judge accepted, he lost well over $2 million of his own money attempting to 'rescue the situation',” the decision dated Aug. 16 says.
Considering that, and the fact his appeal against some charges was successful, the judges changed the punishment to home detention.
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