Dominion Finance chairman Richard (Rick) Bettle and directors Vance Arkinstall and Paul Forsyth have pleaded guilty, and been convicted, on criminal charges they were due to defend next week.
The trio appeared before Justice Sarah Katz in Auckland High Court today, where they pleaded guilty to Securities Act charges of signing off misleading offer documents to investors in the failed finance companies Dominion Finance and subsidiary North South Finance.
The men were remanded at large to be sentenced on August 16, when home detention is a likely penalty.
The criminal charges brought by the FInancial Markets Authority carry a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment or fines of up to $300,000.
Just two weeks ago, Bettle and Arkinstall appeared before the same judge, desperately applying for discharge without conviction. Most of that hearing was in chambers and not able to be reported.
Their application was declined last week.
Today they pleaded guilty to five Securities Act charges after the Crown agreed to drop two more, accepting they had an arguable defence.
Forsyth pleaded guilty to all seven Securities Act charges this morning – the same charges on which fellow directors Ann Butler and Robert Whale earlier pleaded guilty to and are now serving home detention sentences of nine months and 12 months, respectively.
Financial Markets Authority acting manager litigation Rachael Manttan says Arkinstall, Bettle and Forsyth failed to perform their roles as directors.
“They did not disclose material information and this left investors in the dark as to the true position of the companies.”
Civil proceedings, also brought by the FMA, have been stayed pending resolution of the criminal trial.
Died in March
Butler's husband Terry Butler avoided the trial because he had cancer. He died on March 28.