Former Blues rugby boss faces corruption trial

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 09:53 26/03/2014

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A former chief executive of the Blues rugby franchise will stand trial for corruption in November.

Peter Scutts, 58, appeared in the High Court at Auckland today charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with taking a kickback from a client of his NZX-listed New Zealand Wine Company.

Scutts is the former chief executive of the Blues rugby franchise and speculation had linked him with a return to the job.

He was charged in the Auckland District Court last September with 16 counts of dishonestly using a document and one count of receiving secret commissions.

He successfully applied to have the case moved to the High Court and made his first appearance in the court today represented by John Billington QC.

Justice Timothy Brewer set a trial date of November 3, to be heard before a judge alone, rather than a jury.

The charges relate to Scutts' former position as the chief executive of the New Zealand Wine Company, the marketer of Marlborough wine brand Grove Mill.

It was alleged he entered into an arrangement with an Australian customer to receive kickbacks from a supply deal.

The SFO alleged Scutts' board had no knowledge of this arrangement, through which Scutts received $64,000.

In New Zealand Wine Company's report for the year to 2012 Scutts said: "We have made significant changes to how we market our wines. The best gains have been our efforts in Australia, which have helped clear our excess stock and developed new channels to our consumers."

Scutts remained chief executive until September 2012 when New Zealand Wine Company merged with NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines.

Scutts was remanded on bail to trial.

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- Fairfax Media

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