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E-Gas liquidation prompts $17m of fraud charges

BUSINESSDESK: The directors of failed natural gas retailer E-Gas under-reported gas by some 950,000 gigajoules of consumption to commit frauds worth $17 million in total, the Serious Fraud Office alleges in charges filed in the Wellington District Court.

Wellington-based E-Gas went into liquidation without warning in October 2010, leaving other gas retailers to purchase its approximately 7000 customers.

The SFO alleges former managing director Ronald Peter Rosenberg and former general manager Sydney Lio Hunt under-reported gas consumption to the value of $8.74 million, and avoided penalties of about $8.67 million.

They face a total of 82 charges – 41 charges each – under the Crimes Act relating to the dishonest use of documents between April 2005 and October 2008. The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

At the time of its failure, liquidators at chartered accountants BDO said the company had faced "increasingly difficult trading conditions together with other non-recoverable increasing operational costs".

Messrs Rosenberg and Hunt will next appear in the Wellington District Court on September 27.