SCF accountant slams SFO investigation
South Canterbury Finance's former group accountant Terrance Hutton has come out swinging at the Serious Fraud Office's investigation, after charges against him were dropped.
Today in the High Court at Timaru two charges against Hutton were withdrawn by the court, after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) withdrew its charges in late October.
Hutton was accused of false accounting in relation to the recording of a $25 million loan advance and a $10 million loan advance.
''I believe the withdrawal of the charges reflects the poor standard of investigation work initially undertaken by Adam Feeley and his investigation team (form the SFO)," he said.
"Our defence team, Jonathan Eaton QC, and forensic expert Gib Beattie along with Graeme Brown's counsel, Richard Raymond, were able to reconstruct the transactions using information obtained from the SFO under discovery along with other documents obtained under third party disclosure, which had previously been supplied to, but apparently not considered relevant by the SFO.''
The evidence was then put back to the SFO, he said.
''In turn they discussed our defence with the SFO acting director Simon McArley who had been appointed following Mr Feeley's resignation. The acting director determined that both charges faced should be withdrawn as those charges fell short of the Solicitor General's Prosecution Guidelines for prosecution.
''It has been a long two years, since the charges were first laid, with their share of challenges and stress as well as a significant financial cost."
He went on to thank his lawyers, family and the people of Timaru.
The charges were originally laid in December 2011.
The trial for the remaining defendants, Lachie McLeod, Edward Sullivan and Robert White, is set down to start in the High Court at Timaru on March 12.
In August a single charge of false accounting against SCF's former chief financial officer, Graeme Brown, was also dropped. In the same month an attempt by former SCF chief executive McLeod to have five fraud charges against him dropped was unsuccessful.
The remaining defendants are alleged to have committed fraud offences under the Crimes Act which carry maximum penalties of between seven and 10 years' imprisonment.
- The Timaru Herald