Man defrauded Dunedin company of $5 million

After a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation, Mark James Whelan has pleaded guilty to 66 charges in the Auckland District Court for his principal role in defrauding listed, Dunedin-based vehicle finance company Motor Trade Finances Ltd of almost $5 million.

In mid-September last year, 110 fraud charges were laid by the SFO against seven people for obtaining by deception loans worth a total $4.9 million.

The fraud was initially uncovered through regular auditing processes by parent MTF, and then passed to the SFO.

Mr Whelan (40), formerly of Auckland, operating as an MTF franchise, faced 25 individual charges and 41 joint charges under the Crimes Act, and six other people also faced Crimes Act charges in the Auckland District Court.

In September, Mr Whelan was accused of obtaining loans totalling $4.9 million, in the names of family and friends, using nonexistent assets as security, and then using them for ''personal gain''.

Three of Mr Whelan's co-accused have already pleaded guilty to related SFO charges, and three other co-accused face trial in March 2013.

MTF managing director Angus Bradshaw was not available for comment yesterday, but has said full provision was made for the ''expected loss in previous years'' and a full disclosure to shareholders would be made. In its recent annual report, MTF said bad debt written off was up 40%, from $1 million in 2011 to $1.4 million, but what, if any, was related to Mr Whelan's fraud was unclear.

SFO spokeswoman Andrea Linton said Mr Whelan obtained loans totalling $4.9 million and used them for personal gain, including the purchase of land, servicing of debts, and investing in a futures trading scheme, Global Futures Trading Ltd.

• Mr Whelan is yet to face separate charges in relation to his involvement with Global Futures Trading and Derivatek New Zealand Ltd.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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