Guilty plea in Belgrave Finance case

Belgrave Finance director Shane Joseph Buckley has pleaded guilty to theft charges related to $18 million of loans made by the now-collapsed finance company.

In the Auckland District Court today, Mr Buckley pleaded guilty to 19 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, and four charges of false statement by a promoter under the Crimes Act.

The charges, brought by the Serious Fraud Office carry a maximum penalty of seven years and 10 years, respectively.

Mr Buckley was remanded at large for sentencing on August 30.

Fellow Belgrave director Stephen Charles Smith (43) and associate Raymond Tasman Schofield (49) were earlier this year committed for trial on similar charges, with a date yet to be set.

It's not known whether Mr Buckley has agreed to dob-in fellow directors, or give evidence in the upcoming trial, in exchange for his guilty plea. SFO chief executive Adam Feeley says its not appropriate to comment on what Mr Buckley may or may not have provided to the Belgrave investigation ahead of his sentencing and his fellow director's trial.

The SFO laid a total of 60 charges against the three, alleging the defendants misrepresented to investors how their investments in Belgrave Finance would be used, and subsequently used those funds in an unauthorised manner.

The charges relate to more than $18m of loans made by Belgrave Finance to various entities allegedly related to Mr Schofield and the company, between June 2005 and March 2008.

The Financial Markets Authority has also laid charges against the three under the Securities Act and Companies Act, and is prosecuting those charges jointly with the SFO.

SFO chief executive Adam Feeley says his office has now secured convictions in respect of four of the nine collapsed finance companies it has brought charges against.

Other trials are currently under way or imminent.

"Those responsible for serious crimes are progressively being held to account.”

Belgrave Finance was placed into receivership in May 2008, owing an estimated 1000 investors approximately $22m.

The Securities Commission (now FMA) made initial investigations into the company’s collapse before referring it to the SFO in June 2010.

The latest report from receivers KordaMentha points to a sorry state of affairs at Belgrave.

Just $3.3m has been recovered from the $30m loan book and just $23,000 in the last six months.

This has resulted in distributions totalling 9.8c in the dollar, about all the investors are likely to get back.

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2 Comments & Questions

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Anyone called, "Shane", I've learned to give a wide berth to. A very wide berth.

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That's an insightful comment Lachwood. Why don't you stick to the comics.

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