Ponzi accused changes plea to guilty

Shane Scott, who was accused of operating a Ponzi scheme to defraud friends and close associates of $5.4 million, has changed his plea to guilty.

In the Auckland District Court today, Scott pleaded guilty to four charges of obtaining by deception, 20 of theft by a person in a special relationship, one of using a document with intent to defraud, and two of obtaining by false pretence, the Serious Fraud Office said in a statement.

Scott first appeared in the court on January 17 and initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The white-collar crime investigator said Scott operated a Ponzi scheme, using funds from new investors to pay returns to existing ones, and that there was no evidence of any legitimate investments in the case.

It had previously said the long-term investors believed Scott was investing their money in brokering deals in Thailand and other assets, including the diamond trade, South African trade deals and a chicken farm in New Caledonia, and today said short-term investors believed they would get high returns from property developments and import/export deals.

"Mr Scott's admission provides the victims with some closure and the SFO welcomes the opportunity to save public money as the result of the matter not going to trial," SFO director Julie Read said.

"We do, however, want to reiterate the importance of checking that investment information is legitimate, whether you are investing with friends, associates or strangers."

Scott will be sentenced in the Auckland District Court on October 13.

- BusinessDesk

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