CEO guilty of corruption

Published

CEO guilty of corruption

Peter John Scutts (59) was found guilty in the Auckland High Court today following a prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). He has been found guilty of 17 fraud charges.

Mr Scutts was CEO of the New Zealand Wine Company Limited (NZWC) between July 2011 and September 2012.

An eight-week investigation by the SFO in 2013, led to the laying of 16 Crimes Act charges of dishonestly using a document and one Secret Commissions Act charge of corruptly accepting reward for advising NZWC to enter into a contract.

On advice from Mr Scutts, NZWC had entered into a contract to supply wine to an Australian based wine wholesaler. Mr Scutts agreed to receive a commission from the Australian wholesaler for advising NZWC to enter into the supply contract. The NZWC Board had no knowledge of this commission arrangement. Mr Scutts received commissions totalling approximately NZ$64,000, the majority of which was received while he was CEO of NZWC.

SFO Director, Julie Read said, "Corruption and bribery are a priority for the SFO. Even at modest levels, addressing corruption is an important aspect of protecting New Zealand's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business. It is also critical to preventing the escalation of this sort of conduct in New Zealand's economy."

Mr Scutts has been remanded for sentencing on 10 July.

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

The New Zealand Wine Company Limited was a New Zealand based grape grower and winemaker, selling its wine in New Zealand and overseas. The company was 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 the SFO

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

The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.

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..."

In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:

  • the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
  • the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
  • the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
  • any relevant public interest considerations.


The SFO's Annual Report 2014 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO's strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz