SCF fraud accused all named

The case against five people charged with committing New Zealand's biggest white-collar fraud went back to court this morning and now all defendants' names are known and a date was set for the next stage.

The $1.7 billion case against the South Canterbury Finance defendants was called in Timaru at 10am today but the five did not arrive in person.

Edward Oral Sullivan and Robert Alexander White, former South Canterbury Finance directors, did not seek to have name suppression orders continue. Sullivan, a lawyer, is a founder of Timaru legal firm RSM Law, previously known as Raymond Sullivan McGlashan.

They are charged along with former South Canterbury Finance chief executive Lachie McLeod, Timaru chartered accountant Terry Hutton and former chief financial officer Graeme Brown. Interim name suppression had remained in force for Sullivan and White until today.

All five have denied 21 charges brought against them by the Serious Fraud Office.

The defendants were today further remanded at large by the registrar to a nominal date of Monday May 28 at 10am for a post committal conference.

Statements were released for Sullivan and White.

Sullivan said he had leave from his firm until the matter was resolved.

"I acknowledge I am facing charges relating to my role as a director of South Canterbury Finance Ltd. RSM Law has accepted my offer to take a leave of absence during the process which will be reviewed periodically. I am innocent of these allegations and they will be vigorously defended. I have nothing to hide but, unfortunately, because of the rules about discussing matters that are before the Courts I cannot say anything more other than any wrong doing on my part is wholly denied.

I look forward to vindication and moving on with my life,'' Sullivan's statement said.

Bruce Squire, QC, spoke on behalf of White.

"In line with the other defendants charged Mr Robert White did not seek to extend the suppression order previously made by the court in respect of all defendants in respect of the pending charges against the defendants. Mr White's counsel Bruce Squire QC of Wellington said that the reasons why suppression orders were initially granted by the court no longer applied and as with the other defendants Mr White believed it was appropriate it be known he is one of the five Defendants charged.

"Mr Squire said Mr White was most disappointed to have been charged with offences arising from the collapse of South Canterbury Finance. He said Mr White denied he had been guilty of any criminal conduct or dishonesty and would defend the charges. He said Mr White looked forward to the trial when he would have the opportunity to establish his innocence.

"Mr Squire added he was concerned about recent statements made by the director of the Serious Fraud Office to the news media about the nature and extent of the alleged offending disclosed by the collapse of South Canterbury Finance.

He said these matters were only allegations still to be proved and that it was difficult to escape the conclusion the director's comments, seemed designed to raise the stakes in a way which might well be likely to be prejudicial to the defendants right to a fair trial before an impartial jury,'' the statement said.

South Canterbury Finance went into receivership on August 31, 2010 owing about $1.8 billion.

Because the company was in the Crown retail deposit guarantee scheme, all its losses have been borne by the Crown and ultimately New Zealand taxpayers.

The 21 charges allege a variety of offences, including theft by a person in a special relationship, obtaining by deception, false statements by the promoter of a company and false accounting.

The total estimated value of allegedly fraudulent transactions is about $1.7 billion.

- Anne Gibson of NZ Herald

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