South Canterbury trial halted over evidence stoush

Stuart Nattrass
Allan Hubbard

The 16-week South Canterbury Finance trial came to a halt again yesterday over arguments about admissibility of evidence.

The trial is expected to resume on Monday.

Former director Stuart Nattrass was on the stand as the first Crown witness.

He was being quizzed by Crown prosecutor Colin Carruthers QC about nine main transactions that form the basis of the Serious Fraud Office case against directors Ed Sullivan and Rob White and chief executive Lachie McLeod

They are charged with offences including allegedly making false statements as a promoter, theft, false accounting, obtaining by deception, and theft by a person in a special relationship.

The charges mostly relate to claims that the transactions were undisclosed related party deals, the prospectus information and financial reporting were false, and the deals also breached the Crown guarantee deposit scheme that South Canterbury Finance entered after 2008.

The last questions before the halt were about a company called Specialised Sales and Marketing whose general manager appointed in 2003 was Geoffrey Sullivan, nephew of Ed Sullivan.

He is one of 40 witnesses who will be called to give evidence about SSM’s loan exposure with South Canterbury, and a funding problem which was resolved when Mr Sullivan allegedly set up another company called Shark Wholesalers and installed his brother-in-law, freezing worker Peter Symes as shareholder and director who received fees (he has subsequently died of cancer and his evidence is expected to be read out).

The alleged solution was for Shark Wholesalers to buy stock from SSM and SSM would then slowly repurchase it.

During the period under review in 2003 Mr Nattrass was chairman of SSM and fellow directors included Mr Sullivan and Humphry Rolleston.

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