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Lombard four seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court

Monday 10th June 2013

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The former directors of failed lender Lombard Finance & Investments are going to the Supreme Court in a final bid to overturn their convictions for making untrue statements in an offer document.

In a statement, their counsel Jim Farmer QC said Sir Doug Graham, Bill Jeffries, Lawrie Bryant and Michael Reeves will apply to the country's highest court for leave to appeal last month's Court of Appeal ruling which upheld their convictions and accepted the Crown's contention that the starting points for their respective sentences were too low which needed to "reflect the gravity of the offending."

"That decision has been taken after a full consideration of the judgment, including the receipt of legal advice," Farmer said. "The application for leave will be filed as soon as the Court of Appeal has given a final judgment on the Solicitor-General's appeals."

All four avoided jail time when sentenced in March last year, when Justice Robert Dobson said the offending was much less serious than that involving other failed finance companies, such as Bridgecorp. They had been found guilty of making untrue statements in investment documents and advertisements in late 2007 and early 2008 and the Crown had initially sought jail terms.

The Appeal Court bench, comprising Justices Anthony Randerson, John Wild, and Christine French, said the sentences were "manifestly inadequate" because not enough weight was given to "to the sentencing purposes of accountability, denunciation and general deterrence nor to the serious consequences to those who invested in reliance on the truth of the statements in the amended prospectus."

The court said a final decision on the Crown's appeal would be made once it received updated reports on the availability of suitable addresses for home detention.

Some 4,400 Lombard Finance investors were owed $127 million at the time of the receivership in April 2008. The failed company's major asset was a property loan book of 27 loans with a book value of $136.8 million, mostly for bare land subdivisions or development properties. Of the 27, only nine were first ranking security.

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