8 Dec 2011

Further investigation into SCF not ruled out

3:55 pm on 8 December 2011

The Serious Fraud Office says it is not ruling out the possibility of further investigations into failed company South Canterbury Finance.

South Canterbury Finance was placed in receivership on 31 August last year, costing taxpayers $1.8 billion in payouts under the Government's retail deposit guarantee.

On Wednesday, 21 charges were laid in Timaru District Court against five people over transactions worth $1.7 billion following a 14-month investigation.

Serious Fraud Office chief executive Adam Feeley says the charges involve approximately $1.7 billion worth of transactions. The biggest single transaction was $1.58 billion - the amount accessed from entering the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

The charges allege a variety of offences, including theft by a person in a special relationship; obtaining by deception; false statements by the promoter of a company; and false accounting. The offences carry maximum penalties of between seven and 10 years' jail.

The SFO says it has not investigated all transactions concerning South Canterbury Finance, but its priority is to progress the current charges through the court.

Mr Feeley says the charges relate in part to payments under the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

While he will not give details of the transactions involved, Mr Feeley told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Thursday that drawing a link between the charges and the deposit scheme payment to the company is logical.

Mr Feeley said the SFO is not investigating whether South Canterbury Finance should have been allowed to join the guarantee scheme.

Report interview with Adam Feeley