A jury has found that a broker purposely failed to account for more than $240,000 given to him by investors.
In the Napier District Court this morning, Peter Jonathan Rens, 73, was found guilty on all 12 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.
In 2004, Rens explained to other Hawke's Bay Gliding club members how they could make money on the financial markets.
After hearing about the good returns, Rens' gliding instructor gave him $11,000 to put on the sharemarket. By the next year, 12 people had given Rens $243,000 to invest on their behalf.
Rens left Hawke's Bay in 2007, when investors started asking where their money was. These investors had not seen a cent since.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said Rens deliberately hoodwinked people he knew were not "business savvy" and made a multitude of excuses about the missing money.
Rens told some investors that their money was "frozen" in American trading companies and others that trading was being held up because the lawyers and accountants he used in Uruguay were closed during the holiday season.
Mr Manning said that, instead, investors' money was flowing into Rens' bank account, which he used on personal expenses.
Rens also forged a document stating that the investment had grown to $1 million, to keep investors happy, Mr Manning said.
Rens' lawyer, Bill Calver, said it was a "real possibility" that Rens, too, had been a victim of fraud, or that the money got lost in his "overcomplicated" trading structure.
However, the jury did not buy this. They took less than an hour to come to their decision.
Rens was remanded on bail till February for sentence. The South African born man has surrendered his passport to the police.
- The Dominion Post
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