Corruption investigation leads to SFO charges

Published

Corruption investigation leads to SFO charges

Peter John Scutts (58) has appeared in the Auckland District Court today to face 16 Crimes Act charges of dishonestly using a document and one Secret Commissions Act charge of receiving secret reward for procuring contracts. The charges have been laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Mr Scutts is the former CEO of the New Zealand Wine Company Limited (NZWC). In March 2011, NZWC entered into an arrangement to supply wine to an Australian based wine wholesaler. SFO alleges that while in the role of CEO for the NZWC, Mr Scutts also received payments from the same wholesaler based on the volume of wine sold by NZWC.

SFO alleges that the NZWC Board had no knowledge of Mr Scutt's receipt of their fees. The payments invoiced amount to approximately NZ$64,000.

SFO Acting Director, Graham Gill said, "New Zealand has a very good international reputation for low levels of corruption and SFO is determined this is maintained. Therefore it is always important to act as quickly as possible with investigations of this nature. In this case, we have completed the investigation within eight weeks."

Mr Scutts has been remanded to reappear on 24 September.

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

The New Zealand Wine Company Limited is a New Zealand based grape grower and winemaker, selling its wine in New Zealand and overseas. The company is listed on the NZAX.

Peter Scutts was the CEO of the New Zealand Wine Company Limited from 7 July 2011 until the company merged with Foley Family Wines Limited in September 2012.

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.

Secret Commissions Act offences

Section 8 Receiving secret reward for procuring contracts an offence
(1) Every person is guilty of an offence who advises any person to enter into a contract with a third person and receives or agrees to receive from that third person, without the knowledge and consent of the person so advised, any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for the giving of that advice or the procuring of that contract, unless the person giving that advice himself acts as the agent of the third person in entering into the contract, or is to the knowledge of the person so advised the agent of that third person.

(2) For the purposes of this section a person shall be deemed to advise another person to enter into a contract if he makes to that other person any statement or suggestion with intent to induce him to enter into the contract.

About 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.

SFO's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. 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.

SFO operates three investigative teams:

  • Evaluation and Intelligence;
  • Financial Markets and Corporate Fraud; and
  • Fraud and Corruption.

SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part I 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 II 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..."

SFO's Annual Report 2012 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2013-2016 sets out the SFO's three year strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz