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Second Rockforte Finance director pleads guilty to Crimes Act charges, third director faces trial

Tuesday 1st October 2013

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A second former director of Gisborne-based Rockforte Finance has pleaded guilty to Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office, while a third awaits trial.

John Gardner pleaded guilty to five charges in the Gisborne High Court today, the Serious Fraud Office said in a statement. The charges relate to theft by a person in a special relationship, obtaining by deception and false statement by a promoter. The false reporting led to the finance company's inclusion in the government's retail deposit guarantee scheme, the SFO said.

His co-accused Colin Simpson also pleaded guilty and was last week sentenced to home detention and community service. The final defendant Nigel O'Leary is scheduled to face trial on 31 charges starting tomorrow, the SFO said. The charges carry maximum sentences of seven to 10 years' imprisonment.

The white-collar crime investigator alleges 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 $3.86 million.

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