Five people variously charged by the FMA over property financier Viaduct Capital and Mutual Finance, alongside a businessman who has since died suddenly, will ''vigorously defend'' themselves.
Nick Wevers, a former CEO of Blue Chip and NZX-listed Capital Properties, and brother of former Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Sir Maarten Wevers, died in Auckland on Wednesday morning. Police attended and said the death was not suspicious.
He was one of six people charged this month by the Financial Markets Authority over the 2010 collapse of Mutual Finance and Viaduct Capital.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Nick Wevers. Nick was a well-respected businessman who acted honestly in all his dealings with us," Paul Bublitz, who is one of the other five facing charges, said this afternoon.
"Our thoughts are with his wife and family during this extremely difficult time."
He said those charged had acted honestly at all times and would "vigorously defend" themselves.
"We believe we behaved in a professional and competent manner taking legal advice and properly documenting all transactions at all times."
The charges filed against Bublitz (Viaduct and Mutual), Bruce McKay (Viaduct and Mutual); Richard Blackwood (Viaduct and Mutual); Lance Morrison (Mutual only), and one other who is seeking name suppression, include theft in a special relationship and making false statements in a prospectus. They carry maximum sentences of 7 and 10 years' imprisonment.
The Viaduct charges relate to false statements made to Viaduct's trustee, and carry a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment or a $200,000 fine.
The charges against Wevers (Viaduct only) have been dropped. The others are due in the Auckland District Court on May 7.
Bublitz complained about the length of time it had taken the FMA to investigate and file charges, saying it was "of serious concern, particularly over a case with such a comparatively small amount of money involved compared to some of the other finance company cases".
Those charged faced two more years of uncertainty and cost while the cases work their way through the court system, he said.
"The constant stress and worry over the past four years that we've endured has not been helped by the lack of information from the FMA about the progress of the investigation," Bublitz said.
The FMA declined to offer any further comment other than its statement laying out the charges.
Mutual Finance, which offered property, business and consumer finance, collapsed in July 2010 owing 450 investors an estimated $17 million. Related property financier, Viaduct Capital, was put into receivership in May 2010 owing 110 depositors $7.8m.
In June 2011, the Serious Fraud Office closed its six-month investigation into Mutual Finance & Viaduct Capital, saying it found insufficient evidence to warrant further action.
"The allegations against Mutual Finance and its associated companies do not currently identify sufficient evidence of fraud. However, some information discovered has raised concerns which we believe are best considered by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA)," then-SFO chief Adam Feeley said at the time.
Police have referred Wevers' death to the coroner. His family declined to comment.
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