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SFO lays charges against failed Gisborne lender Rockforte

Thursday 26th January 2012

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Rockforte Finance, the failed Gisborne lender, has received a total of 92 criminal charges which have been laid against all three of its directors by the Serious Fraud Office.

Rockforte directors Nigel O’Leary and Colin Simpson each face 34 chargers, while John Gardner faces 24 charges under the Crimes Act. The alleged offences include theft by a person in a special relationship, false accounting, obtaining by deception and false statements by a promoter. The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven to 10 years.

Rockforte is the second to last finance company to be investigated by the SFO, now only Hanover Finance remains under investigation chief executive Adam Feeley said in a statement.

“We are please that there is now some clarity around this and most other finance company failures,” Feeley said. “We will be putting all necessary resources into managing our eight current finance company professionals through an appropriate conclusion this year.”

 The MED’s National Enforcement Unit and the Financial Market Authority provided support in the case against Rockforte, with allegations underpinning the SFO charges similar to many of its other finance company investigations.

"Rockforte Finance is yet another finance company where people have endeavoured to make prudent investments in a company they believed made arms-length commercial loans and operated under the watchful eye of an independent trustee, but the reality has been something very different," Feeley said.

Rockforte’s records showed 77 investors had invested $3.25 million in secured debentures, though further investors owed $610,000 were found whose funds were transferred to third parties without their knowledge or consent.

The company was placed into receivership in May 2010 after it had 318 loans worth $4.8 million outstanding, some $1.1 million of which were deemed overdue. The security of the loans was “poor” and in some cases “non-existent,” according to receivers. Since then some $168,000 in net loan repayments have been recovered.

(BusinessDesk)

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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