7 Jun 2013

Belgrave Finance director jailed

10:05 pm on 7 June 2013

The former director of a finance company that collapsed owing investors $22 million has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Stephen Smith admitted 25 charges, including theft and making false statements, relating to $18 million worth of loans by Belgrave Finance between 2005 and 2008.

Another director of Belgrave Finance, Shane Buckley, was jailed for three years in 2012, and a legal adviser has been committed to stand trial.

At the High Court in Auckland on Friday, Justice Toogood said Smith was deeply involved in the criminal behaviour that characterised the company.

Justice Toogood also described the financial and emotional harm done to the investors, many of them retirees who lost their life savings.

When Belgrave Finance was finally wound up in 2010 it was the 20th finance company to have collapsed in two years.

Outside court, SFO chief executive Simon McArley said the men devised a scheme so they could give those loans to entities controlled by an associate, Raymond Schofield, who has been granted a stay of prosecution because he is terminally ill.

"People who've been charged one or more of them sat down and thought up a scheme so that they could continue to make these loans to these entities controlled by Mr Schofield, and in some way make people believe that those were not related party loans."