Friday 29th October 2010 1 Comment
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The Serious Fraud Office has raised the stakes in its probe into South Canterbury Finance, announcing a “Part 2 investigation” after its initial swoop into some of the failed lenders’ transactions.
A week after pressing the National Business Review for documents and taped interviews relating to the shuffling ownership of Auckland hotel The Hyatt, the white-collar crime investigator said “following the collection of initial further information the investigation was upgraded to a Part 2 investigation,” on its revamped website.
That means the SFO has reasonable grounds to believe an offence involving serious and complex fraud may have been committed, whereas under a Part I investigation it would only have reason to suspect there fraud occurred.
It also ramps up the SFO’s powers to compel attendance at interviews, where previously it could only require the release of documents.
Last week the SFO said it will probe several SCF transactions in an investigation separate from Aorangi Securities. SCF collapsed at the end of August after a protracted bid to keep the firm alive failed to bring on new investors.
The failure sparked a call on the government’s retail deposit guarantee, which saw Finance Minister Bill English immediately pay $1.775 billion for the Crown to take the role as sole creditor.
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