South Canterbury Finance fraud trial nears end

Last updated 10:29 12/08/2014

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They were charged with the biggest fraud in New Zealand's history, but never given the chance to explain, the defence has told the South Canterbury Finance (SCF) trial.

Former SCF directors Ed Sullivan and Robert White, and former chief executive Lachie McLeod, face 18 charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following SCF's collapse and the resulting $1.58 billion payout under the Crown guarantee.

The trial is being heard by Justice Paul Heath alone.

Pip Hall QC began the defence's closing address by saying "fraud is odious, and not to be presumed".

Fellow defence counsel Marc Corlett then focused on the Crown deed of guarantee.

"In December 2011 SFO announced it as the biggest fraud in New Zealand's history of $1.6b," he said.

"After gleefully seizing on that the media has taken every opportunity to focus on the $1.6b.

"What we now know is that these people were never questioned by the SFO about their entrance into the Crown deed of guarantee, they were never given the opportunity to explain.

"That people can be charged with the biggest fraud and not given the chance to explain is an affront to the Kiwi fair go."

The "biggest fraud in New Zealand" was not mentioned in the Crown's closing, Corlett said, as the claim was "baseless and devoid of any merit".

The defence closing is expected to take the rest of the week.

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- The Timaru Herald

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