Ten-year ban for couple sentenced for fraud

An Auckland couple have been banned from directing any companies for the next 10 years after they defrauded a finance company and an individual.

The sentencing of Nicola James and her partner Edwin Murray came about following a prosecution brought by The Companies Office for a multitude of charges including forgery, running a business with intent to defraud creditors and fraudulently using property of the business for personal benefit.

James, director and sole shareholder of Coro Dingo Limited and CD Plant Hire Limited, and Murray, the manager and operator of the companies, were sentenced in the Auckland District Court on Thursday.

James was also sentenced to 3 months home detention and 150 hours community work while her partner Murray received 6 months home detention and 200 hours’ work in the community.

The court ordered the pair to pay a total of $40,000 in reparations to their victims in weekly instalments of $50.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said Coro Dingo began receiving regular financial assistance from a finance company to finance wages and essential expenses in July 2007.

In September 2009, both Coro Dingo and CD Plant Hire were placed in receivership.

The fraudulent activity of James and Murray consisted of selling an asset of Coro Dingo to a third party for $65,000 without informing that person that there was a registered secured interest over the property.

Murray subsequently supplied a forged letter of reference to the finance company and led it to believe that no money was coming into Coro Dingo’s bank account.

However Murray and James operated an alternative account and in September 2009 withdrew $78,000, the bulk of which was for their personal use.

Companies Office Registries Integrity and Enforcement Team manager Karla Flood said the sentencing was a good result.

Both defendants had previously appeared before the court and this sentence sent a message to all company directors to operate within the law, Flood said.

“Lots of companies experience financial problems in their lifespan but working with creditors to resolve these issues and being honest in carrying out your business is essential.”