Capital + Merchant's directors face judge

Last updated 11:17 15/03/2013
Tallentire
Fairfax NZ
MORE TIME IN JAIL: Owen Tallentire, 65, was sentenced to an additional 12 months in jail today.

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The remaining directors of failed finance company Capital + Merchant have been sentenced to a mixture of an extended jail term for one already serving time and home detention and reparation for the others in the High Court in Auckland this morning.

Robert Sutherland, Colin Ryan and Owen Tallentire had all pleaded guilty to charges of making untrue statements in the company's offer documents.

Capital + Merchant collapsed in 2007 owing 7500 investors $167 million.

Justice Venning sentenced Sutherland, 65, to six months' home detention, 300 hours of community work and $60,000 of reparations.

Ryan, 66, was sentenced to seven months of home detention, 300 hours of community work and $100,000 of reparation.

Tallentire, 65, was sentenced to an additional 12 months in jail.

The former managing director of Capital + Merchant is already serving a five-year jail sentence after being found guilty of fraud last year.

Fellow directors Wayne Douglas and Neal Nicholls are seeking leave to appeal jail sentences of 7 1/2 years after also being convicted on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office. Last month, they pleaded guilty to Securities Act charges brought by the Financial Markets Authority and have yet to be sentenced.

Justice Venning read excerpts from several victim impact statements to the court before he handed down his sentences.

The victims, many of whom were retired or approaching retirement, wrote of feeling "betrayed and angry", "worried and anxious about the future", "suspicious and less trusting", and of undergoing long periods of depression and other health issues.

The judge noted that Australian citizen Ryan was a first-time offender, who had done considerable good during his career, including being made a member of the Order of Australia for his work with children's hospitals.

"Your previous good character is confirmed by the numerous and glowing good references."

He endorsed arrangements to allow Ryan to travel back to Australia to receive treatment for a potentially life-threatening health issue.

Sutherland had a similarly blemish-free record and strong references.

This morning the Crown argued that a sentence of anything less than home detention would be inappropriate for the men.

Prosecutor Nick Williams did, however, acknowledge that Ryan and Sutherland had a good record of service, "which make[s] it even more sad or astonishing that they appear before the court".

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He also agreed they should be given some credit for giving full interviews to the Financial Markets Authority.

David Jones, QC, representing Ryan and Sutherland, said there was a real contrast between them and Tallentire.

They deserved a substantial sentencing discount for pleading guilty before Tallentire, and for co-operating fully with the authorities, he said.

"Their acknowledgement, in my submission, was the catalyst in any sense for the others to capitulate."

Tallentire's counsel, Nathan Gedye, had attempted to argue that his client should have the same starting point as his co-accused.

A further term of imprisonment would be seen as a real punishment by Tallentire, as "an already distant release date will be pushed further out", he said.

But Justice Venning said Tallentire was in a different position to his fellow directors.

Ryan, Sutherland and Tallentire bring the FMA's collection of scalps obtained from finance company prosecutions to 23.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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