Liquidator gets four-year prison sentence for fraud
A former Auckland liquidator has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
Geoffrey Martin Smith (67), who was sentenced today in the Auckland District Court, stole approximately $130,000 from two companies while acting as their liquidator. He was convicted in September following a judge-alone trial on two counts of ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’ and two counts of ‘Perjury’ under the Crimes Act, and two counts of ‘Obstructing an investigation’ under the Serious Fraud Office Act.
The perjury charges relate to documents filed by Mr Smith in civil proceedings concerning the same liquidation activities. The charges for obstructing an investigation relate to the defendant’s intentional failure to comply with two separate notices issued under section 9 of the Serious Fraud Office Act regarding the investigation into his affairs.
The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Mr Smith abused his position of trust to defraud two companies in his capacity as liquidator. He also actively misled the court in proceedings relating to those companies and obstructed an SFO investigation. These offences resulted in additional public funds being spent to resolve this case. The SFO welcomes the court’s sentencing decision which recognised the seriousness of the perjury and obstruction charges."
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550
Note to editors
Crimes Act offences
Section 220 Theft by person in special relationship
(1) This section applies to any person who has received or is in possession of, or has control over, any property on terms or in circumstances that the person knows require the person—
(a) to account to any other person for the property, or for any proceeds arising from the property; or
(b) to deal with the property, or any proceeds arising from the property, in accordance with the requirements of any other person.
(2) Every one to whom subsection (1) applies commits theft who intentionally fails to account to the other person as so required or intentionally deals with the property, or any proceeds of the property, otherwise than in accordance with those requirements.
(3) This section applies whether or not the person was required to deliver over the identical property received or in the person’s possession or control.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (1), it is a question of law whether the circumstances required any person to account or to act in accordance with any requirements.
Section 190 Punishment of perjury
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who commits perjury.
(2) If perjury is committed in order to procure the conviction of a person for any offence for which the maximum punishment is not less than 3 years’ imprisonment, the punishment may be imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.
Serious Fraud Office Act offences
Section 45 Offence to obstruct investigation, etc
Every person commits an offence, and is liable on conviction,—
(a) in the case of an individual, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding $15,000:
(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine not exceeding $40,000,—
(c) without lawful justification or excuse, resists, obstructs, or delays any member of the Serious Fraud Office in the exercise of any power conferred by section 9; or
(d) without lawful justification or excuse, refuses or fails to—
(i) attend before the Director; or
(ii) answer any question; or
(iii) supply any information; or
(iv) produce any document; or
(v) provide any explanation; or
(vi) comply with any other requirement, — as required pursuant to the exercise of any power conferred by section 9; or
(e) in the course of complying with any requirement imposed pursuant to section 5 or section 9, gives an answer to any question, or supplies any information, or produces any document, or provides any explanation, knowing that it is false or misleading in a material particular or being reckless as to whether it is so false or misleading.
About the SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.
The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.
The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.
This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.
The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.
The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.
Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”
Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”
In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:
- the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
- the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
- the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
- any relevant public interest considerations.
The SFO’s Annual Report 2019 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Strategic Intentions 2020-2024 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz.
The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ