SCF CEO a 'good bugger'

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2014

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After months of his name being dragged through the mud, Lachie McLeod fought back tears as supporters read out character references at his trial yesterday.

It was the second day of the defence presenting evidence in favour of former South Canterbury Finance (SCF) chief executive McLeod, and former directors Ed Sullivan and Robert White. All three are on trial before Justice Paul Heath, facing 18 charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office. The case began on March 12, in the High Court at Timaru.

Six character witnesses were called for McLeod, who was visibly moved by the show of support.

Semi-retired accountant Russell Leech focused on McLeod's work as a referee. He first met McLeod in 1987 when he joined the South Canterbury Rugby Referee Association.

"He has refereed in excess of 250 senior games. For a referee to referee 100 is something and Lachie has achieved well above that. He has refereed 27 first-class games throughout New Zealand and been the touch judge in Super 14 games.

"He is a very easygoing person who relates well to everyone, including the young referees. He can communicate as well with a 16-year-old as he can communicate with me, who is a few years older than 16."

Andrew Morris, 56, said McLeod was well respected within the community and Mark Mulligan said the charges McLeod faces were "completely at odds with the person I have known for a long time".

Simon Charteris described him as a "loving father and husband who has a really big heart".

Rob Hewitt called McLeod a "good bugger" whose "integrity has never been called into question".

Quintin Mitchell met McLeod after the collapse of SCF. He was in trouble financially and McLeod helped him realise his assets.

"He helped us for three years and there was never any mention of payment."

White had two character references, including one from his brother-in-law, Ron Luxton. "He married my eldest sister. His approach was one of total integrity and he would never allow anyone to do anything outside the law."

RSM Law partner John McGlashan said was a partner at the firm with Sullivan and had reviewed Sullivan's role in the Woolpak transactions with Ross Lund. The Crown alleges Sullivan exercised control over the company and it was a related party, but McGlashan said Sullivan had set the company up for Lund. "All documents are consistent with how the firm would represent a client. It was common for a lawyer to hold a nominal shareholding."

Still to come are former SCF chief financial officer Graeme Brown, who will be called under subpoena, and former SCF accountant Terry Hutton. Both had faced charges but they were dropped.

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