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Petricevic sentenced to 6.5 years' jail - some to be served in 'country club'

Bridgecorp managing director Rod Petricevic has been jailed for six and a half years, some of which he is expected to serve in Waikato's Spring Hill prison - known as "The Country Club".

Justice Geoff Venning  delivered the sentence at Auckland High Court this morning.

Suited and in a white shirt but without a tie, Petricevic (62) sat impassively in the dock looking straight ahead throughout the morning, after a late start when the prison van bringing him from his remand cell was caught in traffic.

His wife Mary, who showed no emotion, was comforted in a side room by her sons after the sentencing, quickly leaving the packed courtroom as Petricevic was taken to the cells.

His lawyer Charles Cato was heard to tell the family outside court "it was a  good result".

Petricevic, a keen golfer, can expect to spend his first 12 months in Mt Eden prison, and then possibly be transferred to the Spring Hill jail in north Waikato - also known as "The Country Club".

Justice Venning proposed a starting point for sentencing of seven and a half years in jail.

The Crown pushed hard for a starting point of eight years, saying Bridgecorp was the pinnacle of finance company failures.

But Mr Cato said a six year starting point was more appropriate - public derision and the strain on Petricevic's family had been punishment enough.

Justice Venning acknowledged prison would be difficult for Petricevic, at his age.

That, and the fact it was his first criminal offence, allowed a 10% discount to the prison term.

But the judge was not prepared to give a discount for remorse.

"I am not satisfied you have shown your remorse is genuine. You have said you are remorseful, but at the same time you maintain your innocence."

Petricevic had told his probation officer he believed the prospectus the court found to contain misleading statements, fairly reflected the economy at the time.

"You may be sorry investors lost their money, but that is not true remorse."

Justice Venning acknowledged media scruitiny of Petricevic had been "exceptional", but he was not the first finance company director to have experienced that.

He gave Petricevic a "modest reduction" for the effect the public shame had had on his family.

Petricevic's jail term is the highest imposed on convicted finance company directors to date.

Mr Dickey said the sentence was "very satisfactory".

Petricevic's "overt lying" set him apart from other convicted finance company directors and the sentencing sent a clear message.

"If you knowingly mislead the public, you can go to jail for a long time."

Petricevic could be eligible to apply for parole after serving a third of his jail sentence.


10.55am: Petricevic's lawyer Charles Cato has proposed six years in jail as an appropriate starting point for his client.

He said Petricevic had no previous convictions.

 

"When an older man falls from grace and is separated from family and friends, the fall is harder than for somebody younger," he said.

 

Public derision and the strain on Petricevic's family had been punishment enough.

 

Mr Cato has told the court Petricevic had expressed remorse for his role in Bridgecorp's collapse.

 

But Justice Venning has asked just how genuine that was.

 

Petricevic, from the witness box during the trial, said sorry for the losses investors had experienced following Bridgecorp's collapse.

 

But Justice Venning said that was more a venture of regret fof losses that have been suffered, than remorse.

 

"Fundamental to remorse is an understanding you have done something morally wrong and an accepting of it.

 

"There just doesn't seem to be any evidence of that in the material before me," said Justice Venning.

 


10.10am: Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey is proposing a starting point of seven to eight years' jail time for Rod Petricevic.

Bridgecorp was the "pinnacle of market fraud cases", he said.

This was because of the nature of the lies told to the public, the length of time they were maintained (between December 2006 and June 2007) and the amount of investor money that was lost.

Petricevic's behaviour as managing director also added cynicism to the offending, Mr Dickey said.

"Not only was the prisoner prepared to distrubute the lies through offer documents, he also participated or led, together with others in the senior management of Bridgecorp, a collective or conspiratorial view that investors be lied to when they rang in". 

It was not just a "hands off permitting of the lies", but a "very active role" Petricevic had played, Mr Dickey said.

Petricevic's personal interest in the company was another factor that set him apart from his co-accused. Fellow directors Rob Roest and Peter Steigrad will be sentenced next month. Gary Urwin was sentenced to two years in jail earlier this month.

Petricevic, or interests associated with him, was the majority shareholder in the Bridgecorp group of companies, held more than 60% of its shares and was the group managing director, Mr Dickey said.

"Mr Petricevic, more so than any other of the accused, had a personal interest in the financial outcome of Bridgecorp."

It was difficult to see he had shown genuine remorse to his offending, Mr Dickey said.

His apology to investors, given during the trial, had to be seen in the light of the fact he had then gone on to give evidence in his defence and maintained his innocence.

And no offer of reparation had been made.

Mr Dickey said a seven to eight-year jail term was appropriate, on the basis of "totality" - considering the Securities Act, Companies Act and Crimes Act charges that Petricevic was convicted of  together.

The Companies Act  and Securities Act charges carry a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment or a fine of $300,000.

The Crimes Act charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

Given there was duplication of offencing across the charges, Justice Venning has indicated he would consider the Crimes Act charges as the lead offence.

MORE SOON


8am: Convicted Bridgecorp managing director Rod Petricevic spent his final night in remand prison last night.

Today he will find out where, and for how long, he will serve an expected jail term. 

Justice Geoff Venning indicated jail was inevitable for Petricevic, 62, and fellow accused director Rod Roest, when he found them guilty on all charges of misleading investors in the company's 2007 collapse.

The ten Securities Act charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail or a fine of $300,000.

The Crimes Act charges the pair were also convicted of carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the Crown would be pushing for lengthy jail sentences - “more than have been seen so far in similar cases".

Nathans Finance former chairman Roger Moses and director Mervyn Doolan were convicted on five-charges of breaching the Securities Act after a three-month High Court trial last year.

They were jailed for two years two months and two years four months respectively.

Petricevic and Roest were remanded in custody until sentencing.

Bail was requested: Lawyers for both men said their clients had family commitments and wanted to spend Easter with their loved ones.

But Justice Venning said the six-month-spanning trial had afforded them enough time to put their affairs in order. They went straight to Auckland Central Remand Prison.

Terms of imprisonment are likely to be served at another jail outside of Auckland, possible Rangipo Prison near Waiouru.

Petricevic's sentencing, at Auckland High Court this morning, is three weeks ahead of the sentencing of Roest and a third convicted director Peter Steigrad.

The earlier date is due to the overseas commitment of Petricevic's lawyer, Charles Cato, who has accepted the position of Supreme Court Justice of Tonga.

Petricevic will get some time out of jail in September to appear in the Auckland District Court to defend another set of charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

These relate to Petricevic’s purchase of luxury motor boat Medici and a series of payments to a Panmure spray tanner Janita Wright.

Ms Wright, romantically linked to Petricevic and facing business woes of her own, will be a witness at the trial.

Meanwhile, fellow Bridgecorp director Gary Urwin has just completed the first week of his two-year jail sentence.

The 62-year, who sat out the lengthy trial in Sydney, went straight to jail from Auckland High Court last Tuesday, after Justice Pamela Andrews delivered the sentence.

Provided he keeps his nose clean in jail he can expect to be free in one year after serving half his term.

Urwin pleaded guilty to 10 Securities Act charges ahead of the trial.

He is understood to be considering an appeal on the judge’s decision to not substitute the two-year jail term for a home detention sentence.

However, legal experts say the chance of a successful appeal are slim

Bridgecorp chairman Davidson also pleaded guilty, ahead of the trial, to the same charges facing Urwin.

But he escaped jail. Instead he was sentenced to nine months’ home detention, 200 hours of community work and ordered to make reparation of $500,000.

Bridgecorp collapsed into receivership in June 2007 owing $459 million to 14,500 investors - an average of about $33,000 each.  The likely recovery for investors is less than 10c in the dollar. 
 

More by Georgina Bond

Comments and questions
58

Hopefully he has many more

Going down!

As any good Maori supporter would say in court:

I love ya, bro'

"Rod Petricevic will spend his last night in remand prison tonight."

There's a definite upside to this. At least, 'Roddo' can look forward to settling down to more permanent digs. You know, hang a family pic up on the wall etc., etc.

The Hanover Finance and Strategic Finance directors and Consultant must be getting worried.

Today is a public holiday and soon hopefully they will be having a long public ( paid ) holiday.

The Key Government and its FMA and SFO are finally starting to do their job and deliver. About bloody time.

Who is the Consultant?

Consultants are Brian Fitzgerald who took millions out of strategic finance (current owner of Shed 5, Back Benches, Euro) and his little friend Marc Lindal who parks his Aston Martin in peoples face at Princes Wharf (Jail is calling you boys)

About time someone gets those Strategic Finance Guys - they stole millions from my Mum and Dad

This conviction is nothing to do with the Key govt, the FMA or the SFO - they were laid by the Securities Commission in 2008.

instead of it costing the tax payers money to keep him locked inside, why not home detention, and he made to work to pay money back to investors?

I suspect it's because he wouldn't know how to make any money honestly.

No chance of rehabilitation so preventative detention is a must !

Hope, the judge takes into account how he tried to flick the ownership of his Porsche to one of his nominees when the OA was moving in on his assets. More slippery than an eel coated in lanoline.

Does anyone remember a time when there were MINIMUM sentences?
And let's bring back HARD LABOUR for cases where any individual is harmed.
Step up to the plate, John Key, and show us you've got what it takes.

home detention is far too good for this man.

Lots of porridge Rod and you won't be lonely at night

What he also needs is life ban - & i mean life - from being a Director/running a company/being involved in anyway with any org. that solicits funds from the Public. He's going to get out of jail at some point & people like him will always have another go.

This morning: About 3 years is what I'm guessing.

I suspect you are right - the wet bus ticket is being prepared. There'll be a sermon form the bench about the seriousness of the offending then a pathetic sentence.

Will he serve these few months in a real prison or an "open" one with designer bed linen, bluray player plus HD television and en suite bathroom? I presume he'll be allowed conjugal visits from the spray tanning lady ...

plenty of time to work on the golf handicap and can then look forward to burgling a few g&t's off the boys on return to remmer's....

A pity the sentencing Judge forgot to add "throw the key away"
The SOB will be back out sooner than you think, and into his hidden trust accounts like a pig into a trough.

How about the court ordering the release of the millions of dollars in the family trust and the money syphened into his wife's name?

Good job. How he ever got to run a company after his 1980's failures is beyond me

Why hasnt the media named and shamed all the people that Bridgecorp and other finance companies loaned money to and those loans were never repaid

Are you 100% positoive the loans were not repaid, at least in part. Some of the loans in the property sector are caught up in the GFC.
The majority of the borrowers, will have nothing to be named and shamed for. Yours is a petty uneducated call, by someone who obviously has no idea a/ how the finance company sector works b/ they did not cause the B/corp directors to lie to investors.

JP
Were you one of the borrowers???

That is the most pertinent comment amongst all the comments made. Finance Companies only go broke when they can not solicit new capital and have defaults. Petricivic is not the villian, the defaulters are.He should have been given home detention

Sorry but that is nonsense, do you understand this case even a little bit? These charges have nothing to do with Bridgecorp going broke, he would have been guilty of them even if Bcorp had survived. They are about lying to investors. Defaulting borrowers, if there were any, did not make him tell lies.

Defaulting borrowers caused him to tell lies.

Defaulting borrowers did not caused him to make $1m payments to the spray tanning woman. Something else stirring on him caused him to do it.

Let's all hope Somers-Edgar is next for the First Step rip-off.............!

Hard to fathom as to why respective counsels make their submissions as to what sentence they deem to be fair, before the judge delivers his sentence. I mean, it's not as if the judge is going to all of a sudden amend the decision he's already arrived at. So, these tedious courtroom theatrics are as pointless as they are redundant. And they use up valuable court time, needlessly.

And with a barely-respectable term of six-and-a-half years' jail being imposed, you are left wondering as to what level of offending would draw the maximum penalty of 10 years' jail, for commercial fraud. Clearly, contrived pillaging and wanton deception aren't sufficient by themselves to reach that threshold; it also needs to include wholesale rape and slaughter of the investors.

Your Gold Card will be waiting for you when you get out Roddie.

It was common knowledge amongst proper investment professionals that Bridgecorp was a joke. However whenever this was raised either publicly or with financial planners it was poo pooed. The financial planners who supported BC should count themselves lucky that they too aren't facing charges after taking a tonne of commision for a dodgy product. To say that some were wilfully blind to the true state of Bridgecorp wouldn't be far from the truth.

But this guy still faces SFO charges later this year for spray tanner "payments" and the super yacht Medicci etc.. which must incurr cumulative years on top of the 6.5 imposed.
So the final stretch still awaits him.

Flash Harry. The sentence for the other crimes wont be added to Roddys existing spell inside. Indeed Roddy will do no more than 2 to 3 years and be out to enjoy the millions stashed away in the various Trusts. So much of NZ legal system. Its a joke just like the pollies and the Judicary. Roddy and his lawyer should be very happy. Indeed Charles said so outside the Court. Both know Roddy got off very lightly such is the pathetic wimps that run this country

hope he dies an imprisoned man and damned to hell for etrnity

I hope he pays the minbar tab before checking out

Cato and the judge must be pretty good mates

He's banned for 5 years under s.382 Companies Act. He can be banned for 10 years if the FMA, Registrar, or an investor in securities applies under s.383, or s.43F Securities Markets Act, or s.60A Securities Act.
The FMA /.Registrar should move now - same for the others too, the law on banning relates to post-conviction, not post-sentence.

He's siphoned enough away to never have to work again, just hope all of his so called friends have abandoned him, and leave him a very lonely person {can't say man}

I got all excited until I realized there was a decimal point and the figure read 6 point 5 years rather than 65 years...

The financial advisers and planners who promoted Bridgecorp and all the other ill-fated finance companies to their clients should also face charges. If they don't, then something is very wrong with the NZ justice system. I understand that receiving stolen goods is a crime, therefore I also think that shareholder funds channelled into the names of spouses and third parties need to be able to be clawed back, even if it means the bankruptcy of the receiving party.

You can bet that of the $459m that's been "lost" by the investors, a minimum of ten percent of that amount has been salted away by Rod.

MINIMISE THE RISK, damn it.

Wrong, understand the risk then set the return, minimising risk means investing in cash and that, my friend, is the worst performing asset class return.

William Tell's little boy, cops an arrow right in his eyeball.

Why aren't the laws written so there are MINIMUM amounts of time served rather than MAXIMUM amounts?

These so called maximum amount of times are never handed out and yet these deliberate thieves are culpable for early death's of pensoners, stress and anxiety to all their victims, very real financial hardship for thousands... and they only get the wet bus ticket across the wrists and a stern talking to for being naughty!

Disgraceful application of a deterant sentancing. He should be locked away and throw away the warden... or out-source his incarceration to China - saving the tax payer some money - and really teach this parasitic vermin about reparation and deterant!

It's taken since the crash of 87 to catch up with this rogue all deserved

Actual sentence: 3 years

But we do like to dress it up and pretend we're handing out strong justice.

Out in 2 or 3 years, most of which will be in the country club.

I'm sure there's plenty of money stashed away so upon release he'll be able to spend his twilight years enjoying the attentions of his personal spray tanner.

That's what I call paying your debt to society.

Totally believable but also unacceptable!
A man who lies,cheats, and rapes thousands of NZ people, will be out playing golf at the best of NZ coarses in 2 years time. A rapist gets 20 years often, I might assume in dubious circumstances, and is said to have ruined a girls life. This man should tagged for life and anyone dealing with him faces possible conviction of aiding him! Perhaps I will now read that Sir Douglas Graham is appointed a Judge of the High Court.

The judge says Petricivic has not shown remorse because he does not accept that he has done anything wrong. Neither did the Lombard directors and they are out and about!

It all makes sense after hearing Roddy's mum say on Prime it's the investors fault her boy is in jail. It is obviously in his DNA as she cannot see Roddy as being at fault!!!Everyone not related to this low life family should thank their lucky stars however Roddy kids must be worried.Who would want him as their dad.

Too right. Rod's mum, going on talkback, to tell the investors they need to have a good look at themselves.
The rot started from the moment of his conception. Didn't stand a chance.

why has Strategic got off free

WHY DIDN'T THEY STRIP HIM AND THE FAMILY TRUSTS AND NOMINEES OF ALL ASSETS. THEN POSSIBLY MAYBE HE MIGHT BE ABLE TO IMAGINE SOME OF THE PAIN HE HAS INFLICTED ON MANY....

At 2pm today (Friday 27 April 2012), myself and another formal Auckland Mayoral candidate, community 'watchdog' Lisa Prager (who stood in 2007) will be making a formal complaint to Auckland Central Police under s.138 (2) of the Local Electoral Act 2001, regarding John Bank's failure to declare the $15,000 donation from Sky City.

As former Mayoral candidates, both Lisa Prager and myself believe that as a candidate , when you sign off on your electoral returns / expenses/ donations - then you should be accountable.

How is it that the signature of the current Minister for Regulatory Reform, John Banks appears to be so meaningless?

Particularly when you combine this, with the failure to date of John Banks as a former fellow Director of Huljich Wealth Management (NZ) Ltd, to be held accountable for signing Huljich Kiwisaver Scheme registered prospectuses dated 22 August 2008 and 18 September 2009 which contained untrue statements.

(Check the evidence on www.pennybright4epsom.org.nz )

Lisa and myself have both inspected John Bank's 2010 Auckland Mayoral electoral returns for ourselves - the $15,000 Sky City donation was not declared. The $15,000 Sky City donation to Len Brown was declared.

Penny Bright
'Anti-corruption campaigner'

"In response to Anonymous . | Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 11:47am
That is the most pertinent comment amongst all the comments made. Finance Companies only go broke when they can not solicit new capital and have defaults. Petricivic is not the villian, the defaulters are.He should have been given home detention"
Yes thank you Mrs Petricivic.