Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Crown wraps up against Bridgecorp directors

(L- R) Rod Petricevic, Robert Roest, Gary Urwin and Peter Steigrad. Photo / Brett Phibbs
(L- R) Rod Petricevic, Robert Roest, Gary Urwin and Peter Steigrad. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The High Court trial of three former Bridgecorp directors is entering its final stretch.

The Crown is expected to give its closing submissions in Auckland today followed by rebuttal statements by defence lawyers.

Rod Petricevic, Rob Roest and Peter Steigrad face 10 Securities Act charges and are accused of misleading investors in Bridgecorp prospectuses and offer documents.

As well as the Securities Act allegations, Petricevic and Roest face eight counts of knowingly making false statements in offer documents that Bridgecorp had never missed interest payments or repayments of principal to investors.

According to evidence tabled earlier by the Crown, Bridgecorp began missing payments from February 7, 2007. The finance company, which primarily offered property loans, collapsed in July 2007 owing 14,500 investors $459 million.

The three directors on trial deny the charges against them. The case, brought by the Financial Markets Authority, began in October after numerous setbacks but is wrapping up.

During the trial the Crown has alleged that Bridgecorp's deteriorating financial health was not disclosed in the company's registered prospectuses.

The Crown has also alleged the directors failed to disclose that Barcroft - a company to which Bridgecorp sold loans worth $76 million - was a related party.

The Crown depicted the two companies as closely linked to each other and said Bridgecorp used Barcroft as its "treasury or piggybank".

By failing to inform investors of its relationship with Barcroft, Bridgecorp's financial position was painted as being "far more favourable than [was] the truth", the Crown said.

Justice Geoffrey Venning, who is hearing the trial alone, has indicated he will give his verdict on April 5.

That same week, former Bridgecorp director Gary Urwin is expected to be sentenced after a disputed fact hearing.

Urwin originally pleaded not guilty and appeared in court with Petricevic, Roest and Steigrad. But he changed his plea in November last year.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years' jail or a fine of up to $300,000.

Urwin's lawyer, David Reece, asked in November for a home detention report to be prepared, but prosecutor Brian Dickey said the Crown would seek a term of imprisonment.

Former Bridgecorp chairman Bruce Davidson was sentenced to nine months' home detention in October after changing his plea to guilty, and was ordered to pay $500,000 reparations and perform 200 hours of community work.

- NZ Herald

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