Peter Scutts found guilty in kickbacks case

Judge says Scutts lied to SFO, finds defence evidence implausible. 

A High Court judge has dismissed evidence brought by the defence team for Peter John Scutts and convicted him of 17 Serious Fraud Office charges. 

Justice Mary Peters delivered her verdict in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon. Scutts, the former chief executive of the NZ Wine Company (NZWC), crouched low in the dock as the verdict was delivered, hidden from media and members of the public.  

The judge entered convictions for all charges and indicated sentencing would take place later this year.  Scutts remains on bail on the condition he surrenders his passport.  

The charges included one for a receiving a secret reward under the Secret Commissions Act, while the rest related to the dishonest use of a document under the Crimes Act. The SFO alleged Mr Scutts, while working for NZWC, received payments from Australian wholesaler Liquor Marketing Group (LMG) based on the volume of wine sold.

The Crown had alleged he received $1 per case of wine sold when NZWC supplied about 60,000 cases of wine to LMG.

In her written reasoning, Justice Mary Peters says she is satisfied Scutts lied in his interview with the SFO when he denied handwriting on particular invoices was his. He told the SFO his son Oliver had prepared particular invoices, not him. 

The judge also says the evidence of Liquor Marketing Group's Douglas Finlay was implausible. 

Mr Scutts is well known in the advertising industry for his time managing Young & Rubicam (Y&R), and in the rugby world as former chief executive of the Blues Super Rugby franchise.

He was the chief executive of the New Zealand Wine Company from July 2011, until the company merged with Foley Family Wines [NZAX: FFW] in September 2012. Foley Family Wines made a complaint to the SFO in 2013.

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