Russell Maher jailed for $1.55 million fraud
A foreign exchange broker who defrauded his clients of approximately $1.55 million by using forged documents has been sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment.
Russell Maher (53) was sentenced today in the Auckland District Court on 47 representative charges of ‘Using forged documents’ brought by the Serious Fraud Office. The charges relate to Forex Brokers Limited (FBL), through which the defendant provided foreign exchange services.
Mr Maher sought to maintain client confidence in his business by forging documents, which misrepresented the timing of foreign currency transactions he conducted on behalf of his clients. In doing so he concealed the deteriorating financial position of FBL.
The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Mr Maher’s dishonest, repetitive and premeditated offending resulted in significant financial losses to his clients. He abused his position of trust to create the illusion that his business was successful when it was not. Such deceitful behaviour damages New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business.”
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550
Note to editors
The defendant, Russell Angus Maher (53), operated a foreign exchange broking business from 1995 until 2017. Mr Maher provided foreign exchange services through Forex Broker Ltd (FBL). Mr Maher was the sole director and shares of the company were held by him and his wife.
Car yards and other importers used FBL’s services. FBL was placed in liquidation in April 2017 and Mr Maher was declared bankrupt in November 2018.
Crimes Act offences
257 Using forged documents
(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, knowing a document to be forged,—
(a) uses the document to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or
(b) uses, deals with, or acts upon the document as if it were genuine; or
(c) causes any other person to use, deal with, or act upon it as if it were genuine.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a document made or altered outside New Zealand in a manner that would have amounted to forgery if the making or alteration had been done in New Zealand is to be regarded as a forged document.
About the SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.
The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.
The presence of an agency dedicated to white-collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.
This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.
The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.
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 2019 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Integrated Statement of Strategic Intent 2016-2020 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz
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