Judge courts criticism over Bryers' sentence
Judge Chris Field has inspired outrage given the apparent leniency of Mark Bryers’ sentence.
Judge Field yesterday sent the Blue Chip co-founder from the Auckland District Court with a $33,750 fine and an order to do 75 hours community work.
Feedback to the National Business Review after the sentence included comments the fine was a joke and that the New Zealand justice system did not take white-collar crime seriously.
“Grab a shotgun, rob a bank get maybe $10K and 10-years . Wear a suit, rip off investors, get $500m and a slap with a bus ticket – crime really does pay,” said one reader.
Said another: “This must be a joke - rip of millions from the most vunerable and pay back 30k and a couple of hours sweeping up at golf harbour (which we all know he won't do). If we had decent lawyers, a class action civil suit should be next.”
Bryers’ Blue Chip empire collapsed in 2008, owing more than 2000 investors more than $84 million.
He faced 34 charges under the Companies Act and Financial Reporting Act for failing to maintain proper financial records and failing to attend a creditors meeting.
A jail term was only a possibility on one of the charges Bryers was sentenced on. He others were punishable with fines of between $5000 and $100,000
About 50 out-of-pocket Blue Chip investor packed into the Auckland District Court to hear Judge Field’s penalty for the man they trusted with their lost cash.
Judge Field rejected the submission by Bryers’ lawyer Aaron Lllod for no community work because it was “unjust and impractical” given Bryers would have to commute from Sydney and that would hinder his venture in Sydney – Northern Crest, previously previously Blue Chip Financial Solutions.
Victim impact reports handed to the court were the size of a telephone book in volume Judge Field said
He said the volume of victim impact reports handed to the court represented of a telephone book and outlined the personal financial disasters of Blue Chip investors.
Judge Field, who reduced Bryers’ fine by 20% discount on his fine because of his guilty plea, said there was an overwhelming sense of understandable bitterness emerging from the letters.
Describing Bryers as experienced, intelligent and aware of his obligations as a company director, the judge told Bryers he failed utterly in his obligations as a company dirctor and the results were catastrophic.
Crown prosecutor Mark Woolford wanted a $70,000 fine and 150 hours community work.
Bryers was bankrupted at the High Court at Auckland in October.