Capital and Merchant duo plead guilty again

MARIA SLADE
Last updated 11:16 15/02/2013

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Guilty pleas from two Capital and Merchant directors bring to an end the Financial Markets Authority's (FMA) criminal proceedings against the failed finance company's bosses.

However it will not be the last the courts see of the matter, with Wayne Douglas and Neal Nicholls applying for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

This morning the pair pleaded guilty to Securities Act charges brought by the FMA of making untrue statements in the company's offer documents.

They are already serving seven-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted on fraud charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) last year - the longest sentences so far handed out to failed finance company officers.

If their bid to appeal their SFO convictions in the Supreme Court succeeds it will be the first time a criminal case involving failed finance company directors has made it to the highest court in the land.

The pair were due to stand trial on the FMA charges this week, but today Douglas pleaded guilty to one charge of making an untrue statement in a registered prospectus and one charge of distributing an advertisement which included an untrue statement.

Nicholls pleaded guilty to two charges of making an untrue statement in a registered prospectus and one charge of distributing an untrue advertisement.

Both appeared in court wearing plain grey prison t-shirts and Nicholls was unshaven.

Other Capital and Merchant directors Robert Sutherland, Colin Ryan and Owen Tallentire earlier pleaded guilty to charges in the FMA case. Tallentire was also found guilty in the SFO case and sentenced to five years in prison.

The FMA said today's pleas brought its case to a close.

"All five directors have now pleaded guilty to the most serious charges we brought against them. These cases are important in the work we do to hold directors to account and to restore public confidence in our markets," head of enforcement Belinda Moffat said.

The High Court heard today that Douglas and Nicholls had filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, and supporting documentation was due shortly.

Justice Patricia Courtney remanded both men for sentencing at a later date which may be set when lawyers meet for a telephone conference on the Supreme Court bid on April 17.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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