SFO lay charges in alleged $15M fraud

Published

SFO lay charges in alleged $15M fraud

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today laid 87 charges under the Crimes Act against Michael John Bradley and Jacqueline Lyndsay Bradley, the co-directors of B’On Financial Services Ltd (B’On), for what is alleged to be the defrauding of approximately 85 investors of over $15M. 

Chief Executive, Adam Feeley, said the case is alleged that B’On took investors’ money to repay earlier investors, and also to fund the lifestyle of the defendants. 

“Anyone contemplating investing their hard-earned money should understand the risks that are attached to any form of investment. However, it is also reasonable that New Zealanders can expect that any investment scheme is run honestly, and that their money is used in the manner promised.”

Mr Feeley added that where these expectations are not met, it was important that Government agencies responded.

“Speed and professionalism should be the hallmarks of any major fraud investigation, and we believe this case has met those standards.”
 
The SFO says that its investigation identified over 85 investors, but charges relate to 24 investors in the period 2003 to 2009 and comprise:

  • theft by a person required to account and theft by a person in a special relationship – Sections 222 and 220 Crimes Act 1961 (59 charges)
  • dishonestly using a document – Section 228(b) Crimes Act 1961 (28 charges)

The defendants were remanded on bail to appear on 13 January 2011.

For further information

Nick Paterson
General Manager, Fraud and Corruption
Serious Fraud Office
Phone: 021 675647

Note to editors

Case summary

Michael and Jacqueline Bradley established B’On Financial Services Ltd on 20 April 1998 as joint directors and equal shareholders.  They acted as financial advisors and investment managers.  Prior to this they operated under a number of different entities. 

Mr and Mrs Bradley put the company into voluntary liquidation on 22 December 2009.

As a result of an extensive investigation the SFO now alleges that 24 investors invested a total of $14,423,702.18 plus AUD$841,303.00 between 28 April 2003 and 30 November 2009.

The SFO says that clients who invested with the Bradleys did not have their funds invested in any meaningful way.  Instead, the money was primarily used to repay previous investors but was also dispersed on business running costs and personal spending. 

Role of SFO

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 three investigative teams:

  • Fraud Detection & Intelligence;
  • Financial Markets & Corporate Fraud; and
  • Fraud & Corruption.

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 strategic goals and performance standards.  It is available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz

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 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.

Crimes Act 1961 Pre-2003 Amendments

Section 222: Theft by person required to account

Every one commits theft who, having received any money or valuable security or other thing whatsoever on terms requiring him to account for or pay it, or the proceeds of it, or any part of such proceeds, to any other person, though not requiring him to deliver over in specie the identical money, valuable security, or other thing received, fraudulently converts to his own use or fraudulently omits to account for or pay the same or any part thereof, or to account for or pay such proceeds or any part thereof, which he was required to account for or pay as aforesaid:

Provided that if it is part of the said terms that the money or other thing received, or the proceeds thereof, shall form an item in a debtor and creditor account between the person receiving it and the person to whom he is to account for or pay the same, and that such last-mentioned person shall rely only on the personal liability of the other as his debtor in respect thereof, the proper entry of the amount of the money or proceeds or any part thereof in that account shall be a sufficient accounting for the amount so entered; and in such case no fraudulent conversion of the amount accounted for shall be deemed to have taken place.