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Peter Edward Hynes today pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to 40 charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) totalling $1.6M.

Guilty plea on SFO $1.6m fraud charge

Peter Edward Hynes today pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to 40 charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) totalling $1.6M.

The SFO, who had extradited Hynes from Australia, said they had worked effectively with the NZ Police and Interpol to bring Hynes to justice.

SFO Chief Executive, Adam Feeley, said, “New Zealand fraudsters should not assume that fleeing to another jurisdiction will allow them to avoid accountability for their crimes.”

The SFO added that notwithstanding a recent number of large fraud investigations being announced, the Office was continuing to ensure good results with other cases.

Mr Feeley said, “While the average scale of current investigations is $35M of losses per case, we have not lost sight of the public importance in investigating and prosecuting smaller cases of fraud.”

The SFO said that current investigations ranged from $160,000 to the hundreds of millions lost in cases such as South Canterbury Finance and Capital + Merchant.

Mr Feeley added that the SFO expected to bring further charges in respect of current investigations prior to the conclusion of the year.

Mr Hynes has been granted bail prior to sentencing, which is scheduled for 18 February 2011.

For further information

Adam Feeley
Chief Executive
Serious Fraud Office
Phone 021 333 539

Note to editors

Mr Hynes was the Managing Director of MacPherson Marine Limited, a marine retailer formerly based in Christchurch. MacPherson Marine operated a finance facility with GE Commercial Finance (GE) whereby GE provided finance to MacPherson Marine on new boats and motors between the time of acquisition by MacPherson Marine from the manufacturer and the time of sale to a customer.

The charges laid primarily relate to false representations made by Mr Hynes to GE between 2004 and 2006 in order to obtain and retain credit. In addition, Mr Hynes submitted false loan applications to Marac Finance and stole further funds paid to MacPherson Marine by customers as payment on boats and motors.  In total, the quantum of Mr Hynes’ offending is approximately $1.6 million.
 
He used the majority of the dishonestly obtained funds to repay MacPherson Marine’s growing debts to GE.  Despite this, MacPherson Marine went into liquidation in July 2006.  Mr Hynes fled New Zealand for Australia immediately prior to the liquidation, and his offending being discovered.

The SFO investigation into Mr Hynes’ affairs commenced in November 2006, despite the absence of Mr Hynes, and in May 2008 fraud charges were laid in the District Court at Christchurch.  At that time a warrant for Mr Hynes’ arrest was issued.

With the assistance of Interpol and Australian authorities Mr Hynes was located in Queensland earlier this year. He was arrested by Australian Police on 7 July 2010 and extradited to New Zealand under New Zealand Police escort on 14 July 2010.

The role of the Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Act(external link) in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.

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…”

The SFO’s Statement of Intent 2010-2012 sets out the SFO’s three year strategy and goals for contributing towards the Government’s Justice and Economic Development goals. It is available online at http://www.sfo.govt.nz/f56,555/SFO_Statement_of_Intent_2010.pdf(external link)(external link)