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Bettle quits Diligent board as Dominion Finance trial looms

Rick Bettle has resigned from the board of Diligent Board Member Services as the trial for his role at failed lender Dominion Finance looms.

The New York-based company is reviewing its corporate governance, using an outside consultant, and will not put up a new nominee at next week’s annual meeting. Mr Bettle resigned effective immediately, having joined the board in late 2007, Diligent says in a statement.

The governance app maker stressed his exit was not over its own administrative problems, which saw it award too many options to executives and engage an auditor that did not meet the market regulator’s requirements.

“Mr Bettle did not resign due to any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices,” it says.

Diligent’s shares fell 0.4 percent to $7.97 yesterday and have surged 46 percent this year.

Mr Bettle is scheduled to stand trial in the High Court in Auckland next month, accused of signing off on misleading offer documents to investors in the failed finance companies Dominion Finance and North South Finance.

Fellow ex-Dominion directors Vance Arkinstall and Paul Forsyth are also defending the charges. Last week Messrs Bettle and Arkinstall applied to be discharged from the case.

Earlier this month former Dominion directors Ann Butler and Robert Whale were sentenced to home detention, having pleaded guilty to Securities Act charges.

Mr Whale and an unnamed associate were found not guilty of fraud charges, though former Dominion boss Paul Cropp was convicted and jailed over related party lending of some $13.6 million, which breached the lenders’ trust deed.

Dominion Finance Group had 5937 debenture holders with $176.9 million invested at the time of receivership in 2008. North South Finance was put in receivership in 2010.

Both were subsidiaries of NZX-listed Dominion Finance Holdings, which was placed in liquidation in 2009.

(BusinessDesk)

Comments and questions
6

Honourable thing to do.

Let's hope DIL does the honourable thing, too, and reinstate him if he is discharged and is innocent.

Spare a thought for Bettle, who as a director of Diligent has overseen a dramatic rise in the share price for investors over this time. He deserves kudos for his role in this fine company over the past five years.

Why was this person permitted to work in any finance-related field pending any decision of a trial-based inquiry?
It is a nonsense in this case to assume no wrong when the whole board are either to face trial or have faced trial.

Because he is yet to be proven guilty of anything perhaps? Are you suggesting that we shoot people before trials and hearing all evidence?

Mr Bettle's departure is a serious blow for Diligent. He mentored the CEO, cut out the nonsense and made sure Diligent turned around and became the success it did. There is no doubt that Rick Bettle was one of the major reasons that Diligent turned into the outstanding success it has.

Good luck Rick, I'm confident you'll come through okay.

Should be fine.

I'm sure Sir Douglas thought the same.

Should we be criminalising commercial conduct such as arguable omissions?

Decided with the clear benefit of 20-20 hindsight?