Ex-wine and rugby boss charged with fraud
The ex-boss of the New Zealand Wine Company and Auckland Rugby, Peter John Scutts has appeared in court on fraud charges.
The 58-year old, also well known in the advertising industry for his time managing Young & Rubicam (Y&R), appeared in the Auckland District Court today on 16 Crimes Act charges of dishonestly using a document and one Secret Commissions Act charge of receiving a secret reward for procuring contracts.
The charges have been laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
In March 2011, New Zealand Wine Company (NZWC) entered into an arrangement to supply wine to an Australian based wine wholesaler.
The SFO alleges that while he was NZWC’s chief executive, Mr Scutts also received payments from the same wholesaler based on the volume of wine sold by NZWC.
The payments invoiced amount to about $64,000.
The SFO alleges NZWC’s board had no knowledge of Mr Scutt’s receipt of their fees.
SFO acting director Graham Gill says New Zealand has a very good international reputation for low levels of corruption, which the SFO is determined to maintain.
“Therefore it is always important to act as quickly as possible with investigations of this nature. In this case, we have completed the investigation within eight weeks.”
Mr Scutts, who has yet to enter a plea, was remanded to reappear on September 24.
Following his appearance in court today, Mr Scutts released the following statement through his lawyer:
Mr Scutts released a statement through his lawyer today, saying:
“Mr Scutts denies that he took a secret commission or any of the other allegations of wrongdoing. Mr Scutts, who is represented by senior counsel Mr Billington QC, will be defending all of the charges and expects to be acquitted.”
Taking the helm at troubled wine company
When Mr Scutts was appointed chief executive at NZWC in July 2011, the company had just warned of a full-year loss and a failure to comply with one of its three financial covenants.
Mr Scutts replaced Rob White as chief executive, after working for NZWC for the last year to improve wine sales in Australia.
Mr Scutts has extensive experience in the wine industry, having worked in sales and marketing roles with Montana and as chief executive of The New Zealand Wine Fund.
American billionaire Bill Foley took control of NZWC last year - merging it with his Foley Family Wines through a backdoor listing on the NZAX.