A director of failed firm Rockforte Finance has been
sentenced to four years in jail while another got 11 months'
home detention and 200 hours' community work
Following a 13-month investigation into the Gisborne-based
finance company, the Serious Fraud Office last year laid
charges against Nigel Brent O'Leary and two other Rockforte
directors, Colin Mark Simpson and John Patrick Gardner.
O'Leary admitted to nine charges earlier this month including
theft by person in special relationship, obtaining by
deception, false statement by promoter and false accounting.
He was sentenced to four years in prison at the Gisborne High
Gardner admitted five charges and was sentenced today to 11
months' home detention and 200 hours of community work.
Simpson, who pleaded guilty to nine charges, was handed the
same sentence last month of 11 months' home detention and 200
hours' community work.
The SFO said a significant portion of Rockforte investors'
money was used as a source of funding for the directors'
personal business interests in two companies - Gisborne
Haulage and Michael Ward 1969, which operated the Jean Jones
clothing label throughout New Zealand.
The SFO charges mainly related to this lending and the manner
in which it was reported in Rockforte's accounts.
According to the SFO, false reporting led to Rockforte's
acceptance in the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme,
which reimbursed 77 mum-and-dad investors $3.8 million when
the company collapsed in 2010.
While the losses were covered by the guarantee scheme, new
SFO director Julie Read said today "the fraudulent activities
of Mr O'Leary and his co-directors led to the consequential
failure of several businesses.
"This has had a significant impact on the Gisborne community
and resulted in the loss of financial investments and jobs.
We hope that this decision has brought some form of closure
to people who were affected by the failure of Rockforte," she
- By Hamish Fletcher of the NZ Herald