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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Scutts’ appeal against kickback conviction scuttled

Ex-Auckland Blues boss' eight months of home detention ends in March.

Nick Grant
Fri, 18 Dec 2015

High-profile businessman Peter Scutts lost his appeal against his conviction for taking kickbacks last week, with the judgment only being made publicly available yesterday (see link to judgment at end of story).

A former chief executive of advertising firm Young & Rubicam (Y&R), the Auckland Blues rugby franchise and – most recently – the NZ Wine Company, Scutts was found guilty in July of 17 charges brought against him by the Serious Fraud Office.

Those charges included one of receiving a secret reward under the Secret Commissions Act, while the rest related to the dishonest use of a document under the Crimes Act, and covered offending during the period May 2011-November 2012, when Scutts’ position changed from consultant to New Zealand Wine Company (NZWC) – a role he’d held since November 2009 – to that of the company’s chief executive in June 2011.

In the initial trial, the prosecution proved to the satisfaction of Justice Mary Peters that during this time Scutts received kickbacks from an NZWC customer, Australia-based Liquor Marketing Group (LMG).

The appeal against Scutts’ conviction was on the basis that the High Court judge failed to "consider the totality of the evidence;” reversed the onus on to the defendant to prove he was innocent rather than the SFO proving his guilt; rejected evidence from two LMG senior executives without giving adequate reasons and provided reasoning that fell short of what's expected from a judge hearing a case alone.

In their closely argued judgement on the appeal, however, Justices Harrison, Heath and Collins beg to differ, finding Justice Peters’ verdict “cannot be impeached” and therefore dismissing the appeal.

Scutts’ sentence of eight months home detention – or “8 month mindfulness retreat”, as his LinkedIn page describes it – ends in March next year.

NBR’s approach to Scutts for comment on his appeal’s failure has gone unanswered.

Read the judgment here

If you are travelling by Air New Zealand this week, remember Koru Lounge wi-fi provides you with FREE access to NBR ONLINE premium content.

Nick Grant
Fri, 18 Dec 2015
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Scutts’ appeal against kickback conviction scuttled
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