2 Feb 2010

Former bank executive admits fraud

11:09 pm on 2 February 2010

A former ASB banking executive has admitted stealing nearly $18 million in one of New Zealand's largest cases of employee theft to date.

Stephen Versalko, 51, pleaded guilty to each of the three charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office when he appeared in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday.

Versalko's offending involved fraudulent transactions and offering fictitious investment opportunities to ASB clients between 2000 and 2009.

The court has imposed suppression orders prohibiting the summary of facts from being made public, as the defence disputes the amount of money the SFO says Versalko still possesses.

Defence Stuart Grieve, QC, says his client knows he will face a jail term and he wants to get on with serving it.

Versalko has been remanded in custody until 16 February.

Be cautious about banks, says SFO

SFO director Adam Feeley says the case is a lesson for the public to be cautious when investing with banks.

Mr Feeley told Checkpoint that people often think there is no investment risk with putting money into a bank, but there is always a risk.

"You probably need, as this case demonstrates, to be talking to more than one person. It is unusual to deal with one person solely over the course of nine years, and that's ultimately one of the issues that brought this to light.

"I think to be mindful of the potential in any organisation for fraud means asking a lot of questions - and sometimes difficult questions."

Mr Feeley says banks must also ensure that risk management systems are foolproof.