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The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today said it welcomed the sentence of 5 years 3 months imprisonment against Philip Whitley convicted last month of two counts of making a false statement as a promoter.

SFO welcomes sentence in technology fraud

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today said it welcomed the sentence of 5 years 3 months imprisonment against Philip Whitley convicted last month of two counts of making a false statement as a promoter.

SFO Chief Executive, Adam Feeley, said “Mr Whitely and his company Near Zero Ltd caused over $5M of losses to almost 500 investors and it is heartening to see the gravity with which the Court views such offending.”

Mr Feeley said that the Whitley case was consistent with the type of cases which the SFO needed to be focusing on.

“The SFO has targeted large-scale investment frauds as one of its top priorities and, as a consequence, we expect to see more and more of our prosecutions securing significant custodial sentences.”

He added that while it had been over three years since the investigation into Near Zero had first begun, the SFO was setting more demanding standards for initiating and completing investigations.

“Our strategy is to focus on fewer cases, but which have greater public impact, and to devote sufficient resources to the investigation of them so that they can be brought to a speedier conclusion.”

For further information

Adam Feeley
Chief Executive
Serious Fraud Office
Phone 021 333 539

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 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)