Bettle quits Diligent board as Dominion Finance trial looms

He is scheduled to stand trial in the High Court in Auckland next month.

Rick Bettle has resigned from the board of Diligent Board Member Services as the trial for his role at failed lender Dominion Finance looms.

The New York-based company is reviewing its corporate governance, using an outside consultant, and will not put up a new nominee at next week’s annual meeting. Mr Bettle resigned effective immediately, having joined the board in late 2007, Diligent says in a statement.

The governance app maker stressed his exit was not over its own administrative problems, which saw it award too many options to executives and engage an auditor that did not meet the market regulator’s requirements.

“Mr Bettle did not resign due to any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices,” it says.

Diligent’s shares fell 0.4 percent to $7.97 yesterday and have surged 46 percent this year.

Mr Bettle is scheduled to stand trial in the High Court in Auckland next month, accused of signing off on misleading offer documents to investors in the failed finance companies Dominion Finance and North South Finance.

Fellow ex-Dominion directors Vance Arkinstall and Paul Forsyth are also defending the charges. Last week Messrs Bettle and Arkinstall applied to be discharged from the case.

Earlier this month former Dominion directors Ann Butler and Robert Whale were sentenced to home detention, having pleaded guilty to Securities Act charges.

Mr Whale and an unnamed associate were found not guilty of fraud charges, though former Dominion boss Paul Cropp was convicted and jailed over related party lending of some $13.6 million, which breached the lenders’ trust deed.

Dominion Finance Group had 5937 debenture holders with $176.9 million invested at the time of receivership in 2008. North South Finance was put in receivership in 2010.

Both were subsidiaries of NZX-listed Dominion Finance Holdings, which was placed in liquidation in 2009.

(BusinessDesk)

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