Director avoids being struck off

Last updated 12:55 17/12/2013

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A former director of failed finance company Dominion Finance has avoided being struck off by an accountancy disciplinary tribunal.

The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants disciplinary tribunal found that former Auckland chartered accountant Paul Forsyth's offending in the Dominion Finance case reflected on his fitness to practise accountancy and tended to bring the profession into disrepute.

However, Forsyth could not be struck off as a chartered accountant because he had already resigned from the institute.

In June, Forsyth was convicted on seven counts under the Securities Act while a director of Dominion Finance.

The convictions included four counts of distributing a prospectus containing an untrue statement and three counts of distributing an investment statement containing an untrue statement.

The tribunal heard that Forsyth had pleaded guilty to the offending and accepted he was grossly negligent in carrying out his responsibilities as a director. However, the Crown accepted that he acted honestly at all times.

Forsyth was sentenced to 11 months' home detention and 200 hours community work, and ordered to pay $50,000 in reparations, which he had paid.

However, the tribunal found that offending punishable by imprisonment reflected on his fitness to practise accountancy and tended to bring the profession into disrepute.

Gross negligence in dealing with financial matters, particularly when the public interest was involved, was inconsistent with membership of the institute, the tribunal found.

If Forsyth had still been an institute member his name would have been removed from its register of members for these offences, the tribunal found. However, the tribunal noted that Forsyth had tendered his resignation from the institute and as a result of an oversight by the institute that resignation was accepted before its proceedings took place.

The institute's professional conduct committee sought investigation and hearing costs of $3685.

However, the tribunal heard that 65 year old Forsyth had submitted an affidavit of his financial position disclosing that after making the reparation payment he had minimal assets. Forsyth submitted that any award of costs would mainly punish his wife and family, and that he had resigned from the institute in order to minimise the costs incurred in striking him off.

The tribunal awarded costs of $2500.

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- Fairfax Media

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