Guilty director: 'I've got a pre-booked holiday'

By Edward Gay

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The former director of a failed finance company asked a judge if he could still take his holiday in Fiji after pleading guilty to misleading investors.

National Finance former director Anthony David Banbrook appeared in the High Court at Auckland today where he pleaded guilty to a charge of signing a company prospectus which included untrue statements.

The charge, laid by the Financial Markets Authority, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison or fines of up to $300,000.

Standing outside the dock, the 66-year-old Banbrook spoke up when the Crown asked that he surrender his passport while he waited to be sentenced.

"I've got a pre-booked holiday," said Banbrook, who had been on bail for four years.

Justice Mark Woolford replied: "I understand Mr Banbrook but the guilty plea has changed that."

Banbrook's lawyer Lincoln Burns said the eight-day holiday in July was to Fiji.

Crown prosecutor Steve Symon questioned whether Banbrook's holiday was appropriate. He said the holiday overlapped with the time that Banbrook was to stand trial.

"Secondly, the 2026 victims - the investors - and as to whether it is appropriate when there is reparation ordered that Banbrook be going on vacation to Fiji and presumably using funds that are available for reparation."

National Finance went into receivership in 2006, owing investors $21 million. Some investors have recovered 49c in the dollar.

Mr Symon said the only reason the Crown was not opposing Banbrook's bail was so the report on possible reparation for the victims could be ordered.

Mr Burns said his client had received no fees for his role as director.

"In my submission, to make a link between Banbrook going on holiday while investors lost out ... there is no link between those two events."

But Justice Woolford ordered Banbrook surrender his passport to the court.

"You have acknowledged criminal liability as a director of a financial company and it is proper that a reparation report is received."

Earlier in the hearing, just as Justice Woolford was about to record the conviction against Banbrook's name, Mr Burns politely cut in.

Mr Burns asked that the conviction against his client not be entered because he was looking at filing an application for a discharge without conviction.

A judge can discharge someone without conviction if they believe the consequences of a conviction would out-weigh the seriousness of the crime.

Justice Woolford thought such an application was "highly unlikely" to succeed but did not record the conviction.

Mr Symon said the Crown's ideal starting point for Banbrook's sentence would be between three and three-and-a-half years in prison.

Justice Woolford ordered reports on whether there was a chance of reparation for National Finance investors and whether it was possible for Banbrook to serve home detention.

Banbrook will be sentenced in August.

Fellow National Finance director Trevor Ludlow is serving a sentence of six years and four months in jail after being convicted of charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Markets Authority.

He was found guilty last July of defrauding investors of an estimated $3.5 million.

- APNZ

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