Crown bid to amend charge dismissed

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 16/04/2014

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An application by the Crown to amend the most serious charge in the South Canterbury Finance (SCF) fraud trial has been dismissed.

The application to amend count 10 in the trial of former SCF chief executive Lachie McLeod and former directors Edward Sullivan and Robert White was heard in chambers on April 4, with Justice Paul Heath releasing his findings this week.

The Crown wished to change the words, "on or about 18 October 2008" to "between 14 October 2008 and 19 November 2008". It also sought to change the date of a prospectus which was granted.

Justice Heath found the date amendments were not required. They sought to include letters from SCF from October 14 and November 3, 2008, which he said the current wording allowed for.

"Although the phrase ‘on or about' was originally used in count 10, the references to the letters of 14 October and 3 November 2008 make it clear that the phrase necessarily encompasses the period between these two dates.

"Count 10 is the most serious charge in the indictment. In very general terms, the Crown allege that Mr Sullivan, Mr White and Mr McLeod deliberately provided misleading information to the Minister of Finance [through Treasury] and the false information induced the minister to execute the guarantee deed.

"After South Canterbury was put into receivership, the guarantee was called upon.

"A payment of something in the order of $1.6 billion was required to satisfy the guarantee obligation."

The letters in question include an application to enter the Crown Guarantee Scheme on October 14, 2008, which included an audited financial report for the year and the 2007 prospectus.

The Crown argues the letter failed to refer to related party lending. The same arguments exist for a letter sent on November 3, 2008, with a 2008 prospectus included.

Yesterday John Dalzell was on the stand. He was the owner's representative for the Hyatt Hotel which owed SCF $49 million. Evidence was also given by Treasury's manager of the Crown guarantee scheme, John Park.

The trial continues today.

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- BusinessDay

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