Hugh Hamilton. Photo NZ Herald/Sarah Ivey
A former North Island mayor and lawyer accused of helping
a property developer conceal his identity so the man could
borrow millions of dollars from the now-failed Belgrave Finance
has this morning been found guilty of theft by a personal in a
Hugh Edward Staples Hamilton was accused of 17 charges of
theft by a person in a special relationship as well as 11
charges of false statement by a promoter, and 11 Companies
Act charges of making a false statement to a trustee.
Releasing his verdicts this morning, Justice John Faire found
Hamilton guilty on 14 charges of theft by a person in a
special relationship. He was found not guilty on the other
charges and granted bail until sentencing on Friday July 4.
The theft charges Hamilton was found guilty of come with a
maximum prison sentence of 7 years' in prison.
Hamilton was a former partner of DAC Legal who advised
Belgrave until its 2008 receivership.
The trial, which began in March, was jointly prosecuted by
the Serious Fraud Office and Financial Markets Authority and
follows the 2008 collapse of Belgrave.
According to the Crown, Hamilton allegedly helped former
property developer Raymond Schofield arrange the purchase of
Belgrave in 2005 so that the man's identity and control of
the company was hidden.
The purpose of this was to allegedly allow Schofield to
borrow from the company either directly or through other
companies he controlled.
Schofield was charged alongside Belgrave directors Shane
Buckley and Stephen Smith in September 2011, with the SFO
alleging the defendants misrepresented how investors' money
would be used. The trio were also charged by the FMA for
allegedly making untrue statements in offer documents.
It was alleged that, in substance, Schofield acted as a
Buckley and Smith have pleaded guilty to charges they faced
and been jailed, while Schofield was granted a stay on the
proceedings he faced because he was suffering from terminal
In his early 60s, Hamilton is a former Waipukurau lawyer and
served as mayor of Central Hawke's Bay for six years.
He was Waipukurau Rotary Club president, Central Rugby and
Sports Club chairman and was made a Member of the New Zealand
Order of Merit in the 1997 Queen's Birthday Honours.
In May last year the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers
Disciplinary Tribunal ordered the former lawyer be struck off
the roll of barristers and solicitors.
It followed the New Zealand Law Society bringing charges of
misconduct against Hamilton.
Hamilton has not held a legal practising certificate since
2011, the same year in which he was facing bankruptcy
proceedings due to an unpaid debt for the purchase of a
- Hamish Fletcher of the New Zealand Herald