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A former Hawke's Bay mayor honoured for community service has been charged with fraud relating to the collapse of Belgrave Finance in 2008.
Hugh Edward Staples Hamilton (61), also a former lawyer, was a legal adviser to other people also charged in relation to Belgrave, the Serious Fraud Office says.
Mr Hamilton faces 19 charges under the Crimes Act of theft by a person in a special relationship, five charges of false statement by promoter and 11 Companies Act charges of making a false statement to a trustee.
He is accused of being a "party to the conduct of Belgrave directors, particularly with respect to related party lending and statements made to the trustee", Financial Markets Authority head of enforcement Belinda Moffat says.
Mr Hamilton was a Hawke's Bay mayor from 1989-95 and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1997 for service to local body and community affairs.
In June last year, he abruptly resigned from Waipukurau law firm DAC Legal amid accusations from a client of financial impropriety, according to Hawke's Bay Today.
In September 2011 he faced bankruptcy proceedings over an unpaid debt relating to the purchase of a Wellington brothel.
Belgrave Finance was placed into receivership in May 2008 owing about $22 million to 1000 investors.
Earlier this year, former director Shane Joseph Buckley was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in defrauding Belgrave investors.
Another Belgrave director, Stephen Charles Smith, and an associate, Raymond Tasman Schofield, are due to stand trial on similar charges in April 2013.