Vicki Ravana Letele has been sentenced in the Manukau District Court today to three years and two months’ imprisonment.
Mortgage fraudster used low income families
Vicki Ravana Letele has been sentenced in the Manukau District Court today to three years and two months' imprisonment.
In a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution, Ms Letele was found guilty on 10 charges of dishonestly using a document. The convictions related to property transactions undertaken during the second half of 2010, the total value of the fraud being approximately $3.6 million.
Ms Letele worked together with Ramni Kumar to obtain mortgage finance for low income families who would not otherwise have been able to obtain finance, by using false documentation. This mortgage finance was used to purchase properties from interests related to Ms Letele and Ms Kumar, generating a profit for them.
SFO Director, Julie Read said, "We feel for the investors who had put their trust in Ms Letele to deal with their significant financial transactions. The SFO will continue to put such cases before the Court to ensure New Zealand is a safe place to invest."
Judge Johns, who presided over the sentencing, noted that in white collar crime it is important to denounce the actions of those involved.
Ms Kumar, who gave evidence at Ms Letele's trial, entered a guilty plea in January 2014 and was sentenced to 12 months on home detention and 250 hours of community work.
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Note to editors
Background to investigation
Vicky Ravana Letele was the sole director/shareholder of Focus Property Investment Ltd (Focus). On 9 July 2011 she resigned her directorship and the company was placed into liquidation on the 31 January 2012.
Focus was established to broker the selling and arranging of mortgages for first home buyers on low income.
Crimes Act offences
Section 228 Dishonestly taking or using document
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,-
(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.
About the SFO
The SFO was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.
The SFO's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. The SFO's focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:
- business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
- public confidence in our justice system and public service
- New Zealand's international business reputation.
The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.
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 2015 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO's strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz