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The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today announced additional charges were being brought against Bridgecorp Managing Director, Rodney Petricevic, and Finance Director, Robert Roest.

SFO lays new charges against Bridgecorp

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today announced additional charges were being brought against Bridgecorp Managing Director, Rodney Petricevic, and Finance Director, Robert Roest.

SFO Director, Adam Feeley said the charges related to two set of circumstances.

“The first set relates to an allegedly fraudulent acquisition of a luxury boat, the “Medici,” purchased using Bridgecorp funds totalling $1.8M. The second concerns allegedly dishonest payments totalling $1.2M of Bridgecorp funds authorised by Mr Petricevic to a business entity called ABb”.

“There have been extensive and exhaustive investigations into the failure of Bridgecorp, and these final charges effectively bring all those inquiries to a conclusion”, Mr Feeley said.

The SFO had also investigated a number of large commercial transactions involving Bridgecorp and other companies where there were common shareholders or other related interests.

“We have concluded that, to the extent that we believe any frauds may have been committed, criminal charges in respect of these transactions can be addressed by action already commenced by other agencies, and the Crown may considering revising  the charges which have already been laid in respect of those matters.”

Mr Feeley said that concluding the Bridgecorp investigation was critical to both the wider investigations into failed finance companies, and the SFO’s longer term strategy for fighting corporate fraud.

“There has been a public perception that all of the finance company failures have involved fraud, and this is simply not correct,” Mr Feeley said.

“However, in order for the public to have confidence in our financial markets, it is important that we act where there is evidence of criminal offending, and that we close cases where no evidence, or insufficient evidence, exists.”

Mr Feeley said the recent organisational changes at the SFO were designed to ensure that it was better structured to respond more quickly to allegations of major fraud.

“The SFO was established to deal with major cases of serious and complex fraud. Our operational set-up means we will now deal with fewer but more significant cases in a shorter timeframe”, he said.

For further information

Adam Feeley
Chief Executive
Serious Fraud Office
Phone 021 333 539

Note to editors

Purchase of “Medici”

The Medici was a luxury launch acquired using Bridgecorp funds totalling $1.8M.  The SFO alleges that Mr Rodney Petricevic and Finance Director Mr, Robert Roest together ensured that Bridgecorp paid for the acquisition and operating costs of the Medici along with providing security for a loan to Poseidon Limited. Ownership of Medici vested in Poseidon Limited, a company wholly owned and directed by Mr Petricevic.

ABb Group

ABb, was a trading name for a business operated by Janita Wright, a personal acquaintance of Mr. Petricevic. ABb invoiced Bridgecorp for work relating to marketing consultancy, database management, operation of an after hours call centre and other business expenses. It is alleged that this work was either not done, and/or that the sums invoiced were out of all proportion to the quality and quantity of the work undertaken, and the qualifications, skills and experience of Ms Wright. It is alleged that the business was, in essence, a sham to enable Mr Petricevic to make fraudulent payments from Bridgecorp to Ms Wright. 

The charges laid:
Seven charges have been laid by the Serious Fraud Office totalling $5,244,172.21

ABb

A.  $66, 650.50- Payments to ABb (Pre October 2003) - Sections 220 & 227 Crimes Act; (Petricevic)
B. $1,121,655.60-Payments to ABb (Post October 2003)-Sections 219 & 223 Crimes Act (Petricevic)
 
Poseidon
C.  $1,805,866.11 - Purchase of the vessel Medici - Sections 220 & 227 Crimes Act; (Petricevic & Roest)
D. $1,650,000 – Execution of Loan Document,; Non call on Debenture Stock-Section 229A Crimes Act (x2) (Petricevic & Roest)
E. $350,000 - 1st sponsorship agreement.-Section 229A Crimes Act;  (Petricevic & Roest)
F. $250,000 - 2nd sponsorship agreement-Section 228 C.A; (Petricevic & Roest)

All charges laid, carry on conviction, a maximum term of imprisonment of 7 years.

Investigations conducted into finance companies by the SFO

Waipawa Finance: Investigation concluded and conviction secured against Warren Picket.on 29 May 2009. Sentence of 5 years upheld on appeal.

National Finance: Investigation concluded and charges laid against John Gray and Trevor Allan Ludlow on 23 October 2009.

Bridgecorp: Concluded and charges laid against Rodney Petricevic and Robert Roest

Club Finance: Investigation concluded and no further action taken.

Clegg Finance: Investigation concluded. On advice of the Crown Solicitors, no charges laid due to charges and convictions having already been secured by the Companies Office. 

Five Star Group: Currently under investigation, and nearing a conclusion.

Nathans Finance: Currently under investigation, and awaiting a response to a request for international assistance from overseas enforcement agencies. 

Capital + Merchant: Investigation commenced in March 2010 and remains ongoing.

The role of the Serious Fraud Office

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

The Office has recently gone through a period of change and has reorganised itself to better respond to trends in white collar crime; restore and increase confidence in capital markets and protect the interests of consumers and investors.

As such the office is developing its capabilities in forensic investigations in large-scale and complex financial crime; and working collaboratively with a network of regulatory and law enforcement agencies to investigate fewer but more significant cases within a shorter timeframe.(external link)