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Six years' jail for fraudster Evan Cherry

MATT NIPPERT
Last updated 16:02 11/12/2012

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Fraudster Evan Cherry has been sentenced to six years and two months in prison after admitting stealing $4.7 million as part of a decade-long Ponzi scheme.

Cherry pleaded guilty in September to four charges of theft by a person in a special relationship and was remanded without bail until his sentencing in the North Shore District Court this afternoon.

Cherry, an unregulated financial adviser, operated financial company Investment Solutions from 1996 accepting money from friends and family to invest - supposedly - in shares, notes, bonds and listed companies.

Cherry admitted recycling investor contributions, and appropriating $582,000 for personal expenses.

Business Day understands the personal expenses included paying the mortgage on a $1.3m home in a gated community in Coatesville, lease payments on Porsche and Audi cars and fees for his daughter to attend the exclusive private Pinehurst School.

Investors in Cherry's schemes, who advanced $9m in total, have been told by liquidators to expect a shortfall of at least $5m.

Simon McArley, acting chief executive of the Serious Fraud Office said the case was one of many recent instances of affinity fraud.

"This case is one of a series of similar cases we have dealt with over the past year or so where trusted investment advisors have manipulated or failed to invest investors' funds as promised and provided false statements to conceal losses or misappropriations.

"We continue to warn those wishing to invest to remember every investment is business, not personal," he said.

Cherry's sentence is on par with recent multi-million-dollar white-collar convictions.

Jacqui Bradley was sentenced in October to seven years and five months' imprisonment after her B'On investment company was found at trial to be a $15.5m Ponzi scheme.

Former Capital + Merchant directors Wayne Douglas and Neal Nicholls were given seven-and-a-half years' jail in July on various fraud counts involving about $28m of transactions, after Justice Edwin Wylie said they were motivated by greed and self-interest.

DataSouth director Gavin Bennett got eight years' jail in May for defrauding South Canterbury Finance, while Bridgecorp director Rod Petricevic got almost seven years in April for misleading investors and spending company money on a luxury yacht.

Former ASB bank employee Stephen Velsalko got six years' jail time in a 2010 case involving $17m stolen from his employer, while in 2009 Michael Swann was given nine-and-a-half years' jail relating to a huge fraud against the Otago District Health Board.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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