Accountant found guilty on SFO charges

Last updated 09:56 12/12/2012

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A former director of Hobbs Rose Limited has been found guilty on 14 criminal charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

A jury returned the verdict in the Hamilton District Court on charges of theft by a person in a special relationship against Gary Hobbs. They were laid in November last year and related to funds totalling over $320,000.

At the time of the theft, Hobbs was a director of Te Awamutu accounting firm Hobbs Rose. The SFO investigation concluded that he stole funds from two of his clients’ bank accounts and used the money for the benefit of his own accountancy firm and for another company he was a director for, South American Tobacco Group NZ Limited.

Acting SFO chief executive, Simon McArley, said the office placed high importance on the prosecution.

“As a trusted advisor, Mr Hobbs let his clients down. This not only impacted directly on them but at a local level it undermines the good faith that people should be able to place in professional services such as chartered accountants.”

Hobbs was a qualified chartered accountant and a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA). Following an NZICA investigation into Hobbs Rose and allegations of client funds being mismanaged, Hobbs’ NZICA membership was cancelled in 2010 and his name removed permanently from the NZICA register of members.

A sentencing date has been set for 15 February 2013.

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