Petricevic still chasing legal aid as trial looms

By Edward Gay

Former Bridgecorp directors Rod Petricevic (l) and Robert Roest. Photo / Richard Robinson
Former Bridgecorp directors Rod Petricevic (l) and Robert Roest. Photo / Richard Robinson

Failed finance company director Rod Petricevic is still pursuing his bid for legal aid.

Petricevic appeared in court today where his trial and that of former Bridgecorp chairman Bruce Davidson, executive Rob Roest and two other ex-directors Gary Urwin and Peter Steigrad was re-scheduled for October.

Their trial has been delayed for the second time to allow newly appointed counsel for Rob Roest time to become familiar with the case.

The Securities Commission allege that they mislead investors about Bridgecorp's financial health.

Urwin's lawyer, Alexis Lankovsky, had been hospitalised but he told the court today that he was now "fighting fit".

Petricevic told Justice Geoffrey Venning that he was continuing his fight for legal aid.

He said he had been "under pressure" to get his application filed for the previous trial date of Monday this week.

Petricevic said he received a letter back from Legal Aid which, according to the date of the letter and its corresponding post mark, had taken four days to post.

He said the letter asked him to tick "two boxes".

Justice Venning said Petricevic was representing himself.

Petricevic responded: "That is not my position, I would prefer to be represented."

Justice Venning said the court had already discussed the matter and at present he was self-represented.

The court was also told that Steigrad has been excused from attending most of the trial but will be present on the first day and once a week for the eight weeks the trial is set down for.

The reasons are suppressed.

His lawyer, Brian Keane QC, said outside court that his client had had court documents loaded onto his computer at home and will be able to follow the trial.

Roest has recently been granted legal aid but Petricevic's applications for financial assistance to fund his case have been dismissed but he has re-applied.

A legal aid review panel previously declined Petricevic's legal aid application because despite being bankrupt, he is a trustee of the R.M. Petricevic Trust, which has considerable assets, and his wife Mary and adult sons are discretionary beneficiaries.

A financial report for the year ending March 31, 2009, revealed the trust had a total equity of $5.2 million, owning six rental properties in Auckland which were valued at more than $1 million with mortgage liabilities of $535,000.

Petricevic and Roest also face separate criminal charges from the Serious Fraud Office, which are expected to go to trial next year.

In a related case, a former subsidiary of Bridgecorp, Navigator Finance, has taken civil action against the R.M. Petricevic Trust for $2.2 million.

Bridgecorp collapsed in 2007 owing $459 million to 14,000 investors.


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