Stock agent charged with $2-million fraud, pleads not guilty

Published

A former employee of Rural Livestock Ltd has pleaded not guilty to charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

John Francis Williams (38) appeared in the Dunedin District Court this morning on 17 charges of ‘False accounting’, two charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’, one charge of ‘Causing loss by deception’ and four charges of ‘Theft’.

The SFO alleges that Mr Williams deceived Rural Livestock Ltd and his clients in relation to transactions totalling approximately $2 million.

The defendant elected trial by jury and was remanded on bail to reappear in the Dunedin District Court on 24 January.

ENDS

Issued by

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

The investigation into alleged criminal offending was launched after the Serious Fraud Office received a complaint from Rural Livestock Ltd.

John Francis Williams (38) was employed by Rural Livestock as a livestock agent from June 2008 to May 2016.

Rural Livestock is the largest privately-owned livestock and station company in the South Island. Its head office is in Christchurch. The company provides livestock agency services, including stock sale transactions, auctioneering and valuation services, clearing sales and introduces third parties to each other in respect of grazing.

Crimes Act offences

260 False accounting

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, with intent to obtain by deception any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, or to deceive or cause loss to any other person,—

(a) makes or causes to be made, or concurs in the making of, any false entry in any book or account or other document required or used for accounting purposes; or

(b) omits or causes to be omitted, or concurs in the omission of, any material particular from any such book or account or other document; or

(c) makes any transfer of any interest in a stock, debenture, or debt in the name of any person other than the owner of that interest. 

240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception

(1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,—

(a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or

(b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or

(c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or

(d) causes loss to any other person.

(1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered.

(2) In this section, deception means—                                                                                        (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—

(i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or

(ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or

(b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or

(c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.

219 Theft or stealing

(1) Theft or stealing is the act of,—

(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, taking any property with intent to deprive any owner permanently of that property or of any interest in that property; or

(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, using or dealing with any property with intent to deprive any owner permanently of that property or of any interest in that property after obtaining possession of, or control over, the property in whatever manner.

(2) An intent to deprive any owner permanently of property includes an intent to deal with property in such a manner that—

(a) the property cannot be returned to any owner in the same condition; or

(b) any owner is likely to be permanently deprived of the property or of any interest in the property.

(3) In this section, taking does not include obtaining ownership or possession of, or control over, any property with the consent of the person from whom it is obtained, whether or not consent is obtained by deception.

(4) For tangible property, theft is committed by a taking when the offender moves the property or causes it to be moved.

(1) Theft or stealing is the act of,—

(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, taking any property with intent to deprive any owner permanently of that property or of any interest in that property; or

(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, using or dealing with any property with intent to deprive any owner permanently of that property or of any interest in that property after obtaining possession of, or control over, the property in whatever manner.

(2) An intent to deprive any owner permanently of property includes an intent to deal with property in such a manner that—

(a) the property cannot be returned to any owner in the same condition; or

(b) any owner is likely to be permanently deprived of the property or of any interest in the property.

(3) In this section, taking does not include obtaining ownership or possession of, or control over, any property with the consent of the person from whom it is obtained, whether or not consent is obtained by deception.

(4) For tangible property, theft is committed by a taking when the offender moves the property or causes it to be moved.

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

The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ