SFO boss drops in as Capital + Merchant trial drawing to a close
Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley dropped by Auckland High Court this week as the trial of three Capital + Merchant Finance Group directors was wrapping up.
Mr Feeley watched from the back of the courtroom while Crown prosecutor Nick Davidson QC made his closing submissions in the multi-million dollar theft case, brought by the SFO.
Yesterday the defence began delivering its closing arguments and is expected to finish today.
The defence called no witnesses during the trial and relied largely on the argument there was no case to answer.
None of the directors, who pleaded not guilty to Crimes Act charges, gave evidence. They sat through the trial alongside their lawyers.
Speaking outside the court earlier, Mr Davidson described the five-week trial as more complicated than unravelling the Winebox Inquiry.
Read NBR ONLINE'S summary of the trial here.
Capital + Merchant's chief executive Owen Tallentire and directors Neal Nicholls and Wayne Douglas face three charges of theft relating to $28 million worth of property and investment loans advanced by the financier between 2005 and 2006.
The charges concern four separate transactions, referred to as Numeria 1 and 2, and Clyde 1 and 2, and their intersection with Capital + Merchant Finance.
Messrs Nicholls and Tallentire also face a fourth Crimes Act theft charge.
If Justice Ed Wylie, hearing the trial alone, finds them guilty, they face a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.
The Crown called 16 witnesses as it set out to prove the directors guilty of multi-miillion theft relating to property and investment loans.
Capital + Merchant Finance mainly provided finance and mortgage facilities for commercial and residential property development.
Funds were sourced primarily from the issue of securities to the public as debenture stock and convertible capital notes
Central to the Crown’s case is the allegation Messrs Nichols and Douglas used investor money to finance C+MF’s purchase of loans and leasing company Numeria Holdings, based on a grossly inflated valuation by Mr Tallentire.
It is alleged trusts associated with the director trio benefited from the sale to the tune of $5 million.
Mr Davidson has told the court the directors have no defence. The directors abandoned their duties and deliberately breached their obligations under the trust deed as they circulated millions of investor's dollars between several trusts.
Defence lawyer Bruce Gray QC argued the financier's numerous reports and statements demonstrated the directors had met disclosure duties to the firm's trustee.
It is the second High Court trial for Messrs Douglas and Nicholls, who were in April before the same judge defending separate Crimes Act charges, also brought by the SFO.
The same judge has reserved his verdict on the pair until completion of this trial.
Capital+Merchant owed $167.1million to about 7500 investors when it collapsed in November 2007 – an average of about $22,280 each. Recoveries are unlikely.