More jail time for Five Star Finance 'mastermind'

Neill Allan Williams - the so-called mastermind behind failed finance company Five Star Consumer Finance – has been sentenced to five years imprisonment on  charges brought by the Serious Fraud office.

The 78-year-old is already serving a prison sentence of three years and seven months after pleading guilty to charges of misleading investors who were left $97 million out of pocket when the financier collapsed.

The Financial Markets Authority, which brought those earlier charges, said Williams was generally recognised as the founder of Five Star and was an integral part of all its major strategic decisions.

But because of his prior association with two other failed finance companies, and the fact he was bankrupt at the time, he was not named as a director and his name did not appear on any Five Star documents.

Today's sentencing at Auckland High Court came after he pleaded guilty to two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship earlier this year. The charges carried a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

The five-year jail sentence handed down by Justice Murray Gilbert will increase  Williams’ term of imprisonment by one year and five months.

The judge took into account his health conditions and the fact he did not personally benefit from the offending.

Acting SFO boss Simon McArley says Williams had a role in approximately $43 million of related party lending that occurred between 2003 and 2007.

In the course of making these loans, Mr Williams was one of four defendants who intentionally applied funds in breach of the company’s obligation under its trust deed.

Five Star directors Marcus Macdonald and Nicholas Kirk were in 2010 sentenced to jail terms of one year and six months and one year and nine months, respectively, after pleading guilty to misleading investors.



Anthony Bowden, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to home detention.

Five Star Consumer Finance and Five Star Finance owed $97 million to 2300 investors when they collapsed in 2007.

gbond@nbr.co.nz

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