19 May 2012

Jail may encourage other directors - prosecutor

6:05 am on 19 May 2012

Jail terms imposed in cases linked to the Bridgecorp collapse should ensure directors of other companies improve the way they perform, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey says.

The last two senior staff of the failed finance company were sentenced on Friday at the High Court in Auckland.

Former director Rob Roest was given six and a half years in prison, the same sentence given to managing director Rod Petricevic. The sentence is at the higher end of the penalty scale.

Non-executive director Peter Steigrad was sentenced to nine months home detention, 200 hours of community work and $350,000 in reparation

Mr Dickey says the home detention sentence for Steigrad is stern, as he has been living in Australia and has had to find somewhere to serve it in New Zealand.

This case and others must help get the message through to directors about the need to be awake, robust and independent, he says.

No remorse

Roest was earlier found guilty of 18 charges under the Crimes, Securities and Companies Acts.

Justice Venning told the High Court in Auckland on Friday that Roest had shown no remorse for the Bridgecorp collapse.

He said Roest does not appreciate the impact his offending has had on Bridgecorp's thousands of investors, many of whom have lost their entire life savings.

Justice Venning began with a starting point of seven-and-a-half years, reducing this to six years nine months after taking into account several mitigating factors.

However he decided there was no reason why Roest should serve a sentence longer than Petricevic, who was last month sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for misleading investors.

Justice Venning said he accepted Steigrad was truly remorseful and had shown good character in society, supporting several non-profit organisations.

Investors owed $490m

When the Bridgecorp companies failed in 2007 they owed nearly $490 million to 14,500 investors.

A Bridgecorp investor says he is pleased with the latest prosecutions.

John Dunlop of Porirua, who invested $10,000 in the company, says he's pleased people like Roest have been held to account, but it's little comfort for the thousands of investors who remain out of pocket.

Mr Dunlop says he has so far received just one repayment of $404.

Friday's sentences were the last of the court proceedings against former directors. Former chairman Bruce Davidson had earlier received nine months' home detention and non-executive director Gary Urwin was sentenced to two years' jail on Securities Act charges.