Directors misled investors, says expert

South Canterbury Finance (SCF) wrongly claimed it had access to $150 million in loans at a time when the finance industry was in crisis, the High Court in Timaru was told yesterday.

Independent expert Grant Graham, of investment firm Korda Mentha, said SCF's directors misled investors by claiming in a prospectus they had the backing of a major bank when they did not.

He was giving evidence for the Crown against former SCF directors Edward Sullivan and Robert White and former chief executive Lachie McLeod, who are facing a combined 18 fraud charges.

Graham said that in 2008 the company claimed it had a loan facility of $150 million from the Bank of New Zealand, which would have reassured investors when other institutions were on the verge of collapsing due to the global financial crisis.

However, $50 million of the facility had expired and the remaining $100 million was not available to SCF, Graham said.

He said many of the problematic loans were authorised by SCF chairman the late Alan Hubbard, and that there was a lack of realistic strategies and proper records for repaying loans.

Yesterday afternoon Graham was cross-examined by Sullivan's counsel, Marc Corlett, with much of the proceedings being centred around the International Accounting Standards and Statements of Standard Accounting Practice.

He was also questioned on why he had altered his initial statement regarding related-party lending, to later include trustees, regulators, BNZ and the retail deposit guarantee scheme.

Graham simply stated, "I should have written it in my first brief".

He will continue to be cross-examined when the trial continues today.

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