SFO to withdraw charges against South Canterbury's Hutton
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) says it intends to withdraw charges previously laid against South Canterbury Finance's former group accountant Terrence Hutton.
Mr Hutton faced two charges over New Zealand's biggest fraud case.
The charges were originally laid in December 2011 and alleged false accounting in relation to a $25 million loan advance and a $10 million loan advance.
Hutton was one of five people originally charged over the collapse of the Timaru-based lender, and is the second to have the charges dropped after former chief financial officer Graeme Brown was removed from the indictment in August.
SFO director Julie Read says the SFO continually reviews charges to ensure they remain appropriate, fair and in the public interest.
“I am satisfied, having given regard to the requirements of the solicitor-general’s prosecution guidelines, that the allegations against Mr Hutton should be withdrawn."
Of the original defendants, South Canterbury's Lachie McLeod, Edward Sullivan and Robert White are alleged to have committed fraud offences under the Crimes Act which carry maximum penalties of between seven and 10 years’ imprisonment.
Their trial is scheduled to start in the Timaru High Court at Timaru on March 12.
The 21 charges relating to fraud, dating back to between November 2004 and February 2010, are linked to the $1.58 billion paid out to debenture holders covered by the retail deposit guarantee.
The most serious allegations are against Sullivan and White, whom the Crown asserts "each was a party to the making of deliberately false statements in prospectuses," according to a March judgment setting the trial date. Sullivan, White and McLeod are alleged to have used false financial statements to secure cover in the government's guarantee scheme.