SCF fraud case goes to court

The biggest alleged corporate fraud case in New Zealand history will be called for the first time in Timaru today.

The NZ Serious Fraud Office (SFO) laid 21 charges against five individuals involved with South Canterbury Finance's affairs in December after the finance company was placed in receivership on August 31, 2010, owing about $1.8 billion.

Because it was in the Crown Retail Deposit Scheme, the Crown covered depositors.

The matter will be formally called in Timaru District Court today but it is not clear if those charged will appear, media reported.

The 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 offences carry maximum penalties of between seven and ten years imprisonment.

"The value of the fraud alleged to have been committed exceeds anything in the history of white-collar crime in New Zealand," SFO chief executive, Adam Feeley, said when the charges were laid.

The SFO investigation has been controversial because the finance company's founder Allan Hubbard, who died last year, has considerable public support in Timaru. He was known for having a modest lifestyle and for charitable work in South Canterbury.

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