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Nathan's Finance directors get jail time, home detention

Friday 2nd September 2011 3 Comments

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The Nathan's Finance saga came to a conclusion today after the High Court in Auckland handed down two prison sentences and a home detention to three directors of the failed finance company for making untrue statement on its registered prospectus.

Chairman Roger Moses was ordered to serve two years and two months in prison out of a possible five year sentence, and ordered to pay $425,000 in reparations. Fellow director Mervyn Doolan was sentenced two years and four months prison term, with reparations of $150,000. Donald Young was ordered to serve nine months of home detention and complete 300 hours of community service.

The sentencing was welcomed by the Financial Markets Authority, with the watchdog saying it sent a clear message that the inclusion of untrue statements in issuers' offer documentation as a serious breach of law.

"The guilty verdict in this case, and the penalties imposed, show financial markets participants can expect to be held accountable for their conducts," FMA chief executive Sean Hughes said in a statement. "This case demonstrates that directors have a personal duty to ensure documents and advertisements offering securities to investors do not mislead or deceive."

Today's sentences come after the three were found guilty in July of making untrue statements on a registered prospectus and investment statement in December 2006, concerning lending to related parties, disclosure of bad debts and liquidity levels, that its lending was diversified, and that it made loads and managed them in accordance with robust policies and processes.

The directors were also found to have made further untrue statements when they signed a prospectus extension certificate in March 2007, stating that the company's financial position had not materially or adversely changed since the prospectus was issued.

Lastly, they were also found to have also made these untrue statements in letters to the public, advertising Nathan's Finance.

All three defendants denied the charges.

The case was helped by former director John Hotchin, brother of Hanover Finance director Mark Hotchin, who pled guilty and agreed to give evidence for the prosecution in return for a lighter sentence.

In March he was sentenced to 11 months' home detention and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution. He was not charged with sending letters containing untrue statements to the public as he had resigned from the company when the adverts were sent out.

Nathans was sent to the receivers in 2007 owing some 7,000 investors about $174 million.

In November, the Serious Fraud Office gave up pursuing a prosecution against Nathans’ parent company, VTL Group, saying its case couldn’t reach the appropriate threshold to proceed.

The SFO was investigating the authenticity of three licensing transactions VTL entered into with an American company in 2005 and 2006.


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Comments from our readers

On 2 September 2011 at 4:41 pm Andrew said:
who needs friends when you have John Hotchin
On 2 September 2011 at 5:30 pm Stuart Box said:
Maybe sent a message to directors about making false statements but jail and fines does not help investors get their money back
On 3 September 2011 at 7:42 am unanimous said:
"the watchdog saying it sent a clear message" Clear message: we slap with wet noodles!!
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