Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Petricevic denials all lies, says prosecutor

Rod Petricevic denies knowing of missed maturity payments. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Rod Petricevic denies knowing of missed maturity payments. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Rod Petricevic has been labelled an "inveterate liar" by a Crown prosecutor, who told the High Court parts of the former Bridgecorp director's evidence were "nothing less than a deliberate lie under oath".

Petricevic and fellow directors 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.

The trio deny the charges in a case brought by the Financial Markets Authority.

In its closing submissions in Auckland yesterday, the Crown attempted to pick holes in the defence's evidence, including claims the directors did not know about missed payments to investors.

Petricevic said earlier in the trial he first became aware of missed maturity payments when he read it in the newspaper after Bridgecorp collapsed in July 2007, owing 14,500 investors $459 million.

According to the Crown, Bridgecorp began missing payments from February 7, 2007, when it failed to pay $206,000 due to investors.

Asked about Bridgecorp failing to make a large interest run at the end of March 2007, Petricevic claimed the payments were not missed because they fell due on the weekend and went out on the next banking day.

Although Roest said he knew about issues with payments in February 2007, he believed they were "delayed", not missed.

But Crown lawyer Brian Dickey said Roest's argument was an "afterthought manufactured for trial" and that Petricevic's explanation was "contrived".

During the trial, Petricevic said he dismissed an April 2007 report that made reference to missed investor payments because its author was a junior member of staff.

Petricevic said he did not follow up on the matter at time.

"Mr Petricevic's failure to take any steps to test the accuracy of the material statements underscores that his trial evidence on this point was nothing less than a deliberate lie under oath," Dickey said. Dickey said it was "incredulous to suggest that in [Bridgecorp's] modest one-floor office" Petricevic would not have known about missed maturity payments until after the date of receivership.

"Against the weight of this combined evidence Mr Petricevic's repetitive denials at trial should be dismissed as nothing but the product of an inveterate liar," Dickey said yesterday.

Crown submissions finished yesterday and defence lawyers are set to begin giving rebuttal statements tomorrow with today set aside for preparation.

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 facts 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.

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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