Supreme Court grants Lombard Four leave to appeal sentences, but not convictions

Sir Douglas Graham

The Supreme Court has granted the four former directors of failed lender Lombard Finance & Investments leave to appeal their sentences on issues of fact, but turned down the application to have their convictions overturned.

The country's top court today turned down an attempt by former Justice Ministers Doug Graham and Bill Jeffries, former PR man for the Queen Lawrie Bryant and Lombard's ex-boss Michael Reeves to appeal their convictions for signing off on false statements by omission in the finance company's prospectus, saying there was no appearance of a miscarriage of justice, and that the appeal didn't raise a point of law of general or public importance.

"The statutory criteria for the grant of leave to appeal in respect of conviction are accordingly not made out," the judgment said.

The bench was made up of Chief Justice Sian Elias and Justices William Young and Susan Glazebrook.

The court granted the men leave to appeal their sentences as to whether the Court of Appeal erred in allowing the Solicitor-General's appeals, in particular as to whether imprisonment was necessary.

The Lombard Four received harsher sentences earlier this year after the Crown appealed the non-custodial terms dished out by the High Court.

Jeffries was sentenced to eight months' home detention and 250 hours community work and Reeves was sentenced to nine months home detention and 250 hours community work, having both initially been sentenced to 400 hours community work.

Graham and Bryant were each sentenced to six months home detention and fines of $100,000 apiece. Graham had his sentence of community work reduced to 200 hours from 300 hours.

All four avoided jail time when sentenced in March last year, when Justice Robert Dobson said the offending was much less serious than that involving other failed finance companies, such as Bridgecorp. They had been found guilty of making untrue statements in investment documents and advertisements in late 2007 and early 2008 and the Crown had initially sought jail terms.

Some 4,400 Lombard Finance investors were owed $127 million at the time of the receivership in April 2008. The failed company's major asset was a property loan book of 27 loans with a book value of $136.8 million, mostly for bare land subdivisions or development properties. Of the 27, only nine were first ranking security.


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4 Comments & Questions

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This case does appear to be Making Criminals out of Commercial
endeavours, hardly surprising they have gone to the Supreme Court

As they have been found to have Acted Honestly and have been Diligent
to what extent is this about public pressure and the Judges conceding to
such pressure ?

Plainly some thing not right here

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Re the untrue statements: if the directors "acted honestly", they did so in ignorance, and if they'd been "diligent", then they chose to act dishonestly. Can't have it both ways.

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Hind Sight 20/20 The world is full of ARMCHAIR SO CALLED EXPERTS

It is clear these four were Diligent, and if you had read Dobson J
Judgement you would have read he Found that to be the case

Philips Fox, Minters,KPMG etc etc The advisor's to the Lombard Board

It is clear today No directors can really rely on Professional Advice and actually should Not. ...

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I wonder if Diligent for some people really means: lend out a heap of other peoples money, make it 2nd or 3rd ranking and make sure legally you can
fight it in the courts to the point everyone basically forgets about it.
Some of these director's need to be made to account.

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