Fraudster fights for suppression
A alleged fraudster who once traded on a flattering commercial name in the vein of Kim Dotcom has taken his fight to remain anonymous to the High Court.
The Waikato man faces 24 fraud and dishonesty charges including counts of theft by a person in a special relationship, obtaining more than $1000 by deception and use of documents for pecuniary advantage.
The 39-year-old appeared in Hamilton District Court this week in a bid to keep his name suppressed after he was granted interim name suppression at an earlier hearing.
His counsel Alex Hope argued that if the man, who claims to be an accountant, had his name published then his business and livelihood would be destroyed overnight.
Mr Hope argued the risk to the public could be mitigated by bail conditions that curbed the man's business activities.
The court heard how the accused now files tax returns for clients and manages child support funds from his rural office but is no longer involved in property transactions.
Mr Hope said the man had two staff and, along with his wife, had been developing a client base for the past three years.
He also said the fact that the accused had changed his name multiple times was immaterial as each time it was done for personal reasons.
Every charge related to a commercial relationship where the accused charged a fee for his work and all charges would be vigorously defended, Mr Hope said.
But police prosecution sergeant Bill Cronin opposed limiting the accused's business to filing tax returns alone because that was ''the crux'' of some charges.
He said victims had lost their livelihoods and farms in dealings with the accused and more charges would be laid.
The man's name changes were like his failed companies, Mr Cronin said - they change regularly so the public has no knowledge of who they were dealing with.
If his name was published, Mr Cronin said more victims were likely to come forward.
He also said the accused had no professional accountancy qualifications, no staff, his business was in receivership and after becoming bankrupt he moved to the Waikato and set himself up as an accountant.
Justice Connell said while there was concern about publication of the man's name ''there has to be concern for his present clients or clients that might be attracted to seek his services''.
In this case he said public interest outweighed personal interest and ordered the name suppression to be lifted.
However an appeal was lodged before 4pm Tuesday and the name suppression matter will now go to the High Court in the New Year.The accused remains remanded on bail until January 8.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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