Bay executive evades tax

By Kiri Gillespie

A Tauranga business executive has been convicted of tax evasion and perjury.

The Bay of Plenty Times can reveal Bruce Woodward, chief financial officer for Kidicorp and director of Tauranga company Turnstyle Management Ltd (TML), faced 32 counts of tax evasion and one of perjury when he appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

The charges relate to his personal business and his own finances and had no connection to his role at Kidicorp, where he continues to work. Woodward was acquitted on 20 tax evasion charges relating to his business but convicted on 12 tax evasion charges and the perjury charge. Woodward pleaded not guilty to all charges in January 2012 and had name suppression until yesterday. The tax evasion charges were worth more than $200,000 and related to TML and his personal income activities. He was accused of perjury for lying to an Inland Revenue Department commissioner when asked whether he had any more financial documents.

The offences occurred between 2000 and 2007, during which time Woodward also served as CFO at Kidicorp. Woodward was still listed in this position on the organisation's website yesterday.

Woodward was accused of failing to file tax returns or providing incomplete or misleading returns, and failing to provide GST returns. He was found guilty on charges relating to his personal income tax obligations from wages and other payments received from other sources.

Judge Thomas Ingram said he did not believe beyond reasonable doubt that Woodward knew what he was doing wrong when he provided misleading information about his business.

Some of the alleged offences also occurred when TML was no longer operating and this could not lead to a conviction, Judge Ingram said.

The judge stressed the matter was one which involved tax evasion by delay rather than calculated intention. "But the law says that those who deliberately delay assessment of tax are evading the assessment and additional payment and that has been well and truly documented by courts of New Zealand and the law."

Defence counsel David Weaver asked for the interim name suppression to continue so his client could inform family.

Judge Ingram said it was no longer appropriate for name suppression to continue despite the matter likely leading to Woodward's "professional ruin".

"He can ring around now. He's had appropriate time to do that," Judge Ingram said.

Woodward was bailed for sentencing next month.

Outside court, Kidicorp owner Wayne Wright said he was not concerned at the convictions, despite Woodward being employed by Kidicorp around 2005.

"I'm aware of the circumstances and the offences are pretty technical, things like filed late returns, etc. He's worked for me for many years now and he's always impressed me with his honesty and integrity and never done anything to suggest any different," Mr Wright said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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