Three sentenced following fraud conspiracy

Published

Three sentenced following fraud conspiracy convictions

Three men have been sentenced in the Auckland District Court today after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and attempting to obstruct the course of justice, following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Robert Anthony Briggs (50), the former Principal Officer and General Manager of the Actives Charitable Trust (Actives), was sentenced to four years and ten months imprisonment. Mr Briggs pleaded guilty in June to two charges under the Crimes Act of conspiring to commit an offence for personal financial gain and six charges of corruptly soliciting and accepting commissions under the Secret Commissions Act.

Gerard Thomas Clifford (59), whose interim name suppression was lifted today, was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Mr Clifford was found guilty of two charges under the Crimes Act of conspiring to commit an offence for personal financial gain, for his role in dishonestly obtaining funds from Actives in collusion with Mr Briggs.

Former Member of Parliament Gilbert Colin Myles (65), another former associate of Mr Briggs, was sentenced to four months community detention and 250 hours of community work.  Mr Myles was found guilty of attempting to obstruct the course of justice during the course of the SFO investigation.

During the trial, Mr Briggs admitted to corruptly accepting commissions totalling approximately $153,000 from suppliers in connection with gaming machines ordered on Actives' behalf.

Mr Briggs and Mr Clifford were also found to have operated a dishonest scheme in which $1.2 million of financial grants for equipment was provided by Actives to tennis clubs. Companies owned by Mr Clifford then supplied that equipment to the tennis clubs at over inflated prices, and the funding was then shared between Mr Briggs and Mr Clifford.

SFO Chief Executive Adam Feeley said: "It is imperative that those involved with charitable organisations demonstrate the highest ethical standards. Mr Briggs and Mr Clifford took advantage of their positions and in doing so, deprived the local community of valuable resources."

For further information

Sarah Knowles
Serious Fraud Office
Phone: 021 675 998

Note to editors

Case summary

The Actives Charitable Trust ('Actives') was formed in June 2000 and became a society licensed by the Department of Internal Affairs to operate gaming machines and distribute the proceeds for charitable and community purposes.

Robert Briggs was, at various times, the principal officer and general manager of Actives Charitable Trust. His company, Game Management Limited, also provided management services to the Trust.

Crimes Act offences

Section117 - Corrupting juries and witnesses

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who—

(a) dissuades or attempts to dissuade a person, by threats, bribes, or other corrupt means, from giving evidence in any cause or matter (whether civil or criminal, and whether tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction); or

(b) influences or attempts to influence, by threats or bribes or other corrupt means, a member of a jury in his or her conduct as such (whether in a cause or matter tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction, and whether the member has been sworn as a member of a particular jury or not); or

(c) accepts any bribe or other corrupt consideration to abstain from giving evidence (whether in a cause or matter tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction); or

(d) accepts any bribe or other corrupt consideration on account of his or her conduct as a member of a jury (whether in a cause or matter tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction, and whether the member has been sworn as a member of a particular jury or not); or

(e) wilfully attempts in any other way to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in New Zealand or the course of justice in an overseas jurisdiction.

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.

Section 229A (Pre-2003 Amendments):  Taking or dealing with certain documents with intent to defraud

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7  years who, with intent to defraud,---
 
(a) Takes or obtains any document that is capable of being used to obtain any privilege, benefit, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration; or

(b) Uses or attempts to use any such document for the purpose of obtaining, for himself or for any other person, any privilege, benefit, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration.

Section 310 - Conspiring to commit offence

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2), every one who conspires with any person to commit any offence, or to do or omit, in any part of the world, anything of which the doing or omission in New Zealand would be an offence, is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years if the maximum punishment for that offence exceeds 7 years' imprisonment, and in any other case is liable to the same punishment as if he had committed that offence.

(2) This section shall not apply where a punishment for the conspiracy is otherwise expressly prescribed by this Act or by some other enactment.

(3) Where under this section any one is charged with conspiring to do or omit anything anywhere outside New Zealand, it is a defence to prove that the doing or omission of the act to which the conspiracy relates was not an offence under the law of the place where it was, or was to be, done or omitted.

Secret Commissions Act Offences

Section 4 - Acceptance of such gifts by agent an offence

(1) Every agent is guilty of an offence who corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, or solicits from any person, for himself or for any other person, any gift or other consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do, or for having done or forborne to do, any act in relation to the principal's affairs or business (whether such act is within the scope of the agent's authority or the course of his employment as agent or not), or for showing or having shown favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the principal's affairs or business.

(2) Every agent who diverts, obstructs, or interferes with the proper course of the affairs or business of his principal, or fails to use due diligence in the prosecution of such affairs or business, with intent to obtain for himself or for any other person any gift or other consideration from any person interested in such affairs or business, shall be deemed to have corruptly solicited a consideration within the meaning of this section.

Role of the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (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 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 2011- 2014 sets out the SFO’s three year strategic goals and performance standards. It is available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz