22 Aug 2009

Blue Chip founder admits part in failed investments

5:59 am on 22 August 2009

The founder of the failed property investor, Blue Chip, has pleaded guilty at the Auckland District Court to three charges relating to failed investments.

Mark Bryers pleaded guilty on Friday to failing to comply with a notice to attend a creditor meeting, failing to attend watershed meetings and failing to keep adequate accounting records.

Blue Chip collapsed in February last year with more than 2,000 New Zealand investors losing $84 million.

In return for his guilty pleas the Ministry of Economic Development, which brought the charges against Bryers, agreed to drop four others.

They include intent to avoid compliance and obligations to attend a creditor meeting and failing to comply with a notice to attend a creditor meeting. He faces 69 more charges.

Bryers will re-appear in court in October for a status hearing and may be sentenced then.

A lawyer for some of the investors, Paul Lane, says the admissions are just the beginning of the process.

"They're not the most difficult charge to prove and they're not the most serious of charges. Admitting that he's guilty of these is not a great development, as far as we're concerned. It doesn't mean much to the investors."

A spokesperson for the group Exposing Unacceptable Financial Activities says it is the first acknowledgment from Bryers that he did anything wrong.

However, Suzanne Edmonds told Checkpoint on Friday it is only a small step forward.

"We've got to look at the positive side ... at least there's some acknowledgment from Bryers that we haven't seen from him in the past. But this a huge debacle, a huge crisis, really - and one heck of a lot of malpractice."

Ms Edmonds says investors find it hard to see Mr Bryers being left to live the "high life" on very loose bail conditions.