Pair deny defrauding finance firms of millions

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2014
Brett Ralph Dutton and James Peter Moore
Fairfax NZ
CHARGES DENIED: Brett Ralph Dutton and James Peter Moore leave Hamilton District Court in 2013.

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A six-week trial into two men who allegedly defrauded seven finance companies of more than $3 million is coming to a close in Hamilton.

Brett Ralph Dutton, 48, and James Peter Moore, 51, each deny just under 100 dishonesty-related charges comprising about 50 of using a document, 40 counts of theft by a person in a special relationship, three charges of forgery and one charge of obtaining by deception in relation to the alleged offending between March 2007 and October 2008.

The pair are accused of double dipping money obtained from a finance company to effectively get more finance to import machinery from overseas.

In total, 32 machines were imported during the alleged offending period. Some of the machines are alleged now to be unaccounted for.

In closing submissions before Judge Robert Spear in the Hamilton District Court yesterday, Crown prosecutor Tini Clark said the pair would secure finance for a piece of machinery, then either sell it or use it to obtain further finance from another financial institution. Clark said there was also a case where they pledged the same piece of machinery to two different finance companies at the same time.

The accused set up HPL NZ Ltd, after taking over Henry Peiris Ltd for whom they worked as mortgage brokers.

The finance companies affected are GE Commercial Finance, Blackbird Finance, Lock Finance, UDC Finance, FMG Finance, Waikato Finance and Dorchester Finance. The most out of pocket appeared to be GE with alleged fraud worth more than $1 million.

As directors of the company, the accused were able to enter into a number of agreements for finance for machinery before and after it was imported, Clark said.

In order to fund the import or to finance the units, the accused entered into a number of different financial agreements and pledged the units as a guarantee.

It was alleged that eventually they clocked up just over $3 million of fraudulent finance.

Both Dutton and Moore used to be employed by Trustbank, which was later taken over by Westpac Bank Ltd. Dutton was employed by Trustbank between 1995 and 1999 as a lending team leader. Moore was employed between 1993 and 1996 as a commercial relationship manager.

Clark told Judge Spear that the pair's alleged offending in its "frequency, number of complainant companies, connection in time and similarity in conduct" were "proactive of the intent of the accused and the expertise that they both had in the area of banking".

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"These were entered into deliberately to get pecuniary advantage." Clark said the Crown had to prove that the accused's state of mind was dishonest at the time; however the finance companies stated that security agreements had been signed.

But the excuses given by Moore, who was the only accused to give evidence at trial, varied, including denials of any purposeful fraud stating it was "inadvertent".

Dutton's counsel Sharon Green admitted that they had sold the first machine to GE Finance and that was to raise an extra $20,000 shortfall from an initial $150,000 required for the company.

Green stated that in one case the pair did not make any pecuniary advantage after on-selling one of the machines; they instead incurred further interest.

In other instances their defence was that they had no intention to mislead or obtain any pecuniary advantage, there was a lack of evidence and some of the complainants had been repaid.

Green will finish defence closing submissions this morning.

- Waikato Times

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