Guilty director has sentencing delayed

By Edward Gay

National Finance former director Anthony David Banbrook appeared in the High Court at Auckland today. Photo / Greg Bowker
National Finance former director Anthony David Banbrook appeared in the High Court at Auckland today. Photo / Greg Bowker

The former director of a failed finance company who missed out on his planned holiday to Fiji has had his sentencing delayed.

National Finance former director Anthony David Banbrook appeared in the High Court at Auckland today after earlier pleading 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.

Banbrook changed his lawyer today. However, Justice Tim Brewer said he had only received submissions from Banbrook's new lawyer Harry Waalkens QC at 10am yesterday.

He said that breached the practicing note which stipulates submissions should be filed within two working days.

Justice Brewer said the reason for the rule was that judges sit in court between 10am and 5pm and needed time to consider submissions.

He said he had spent two hours reading submissions last night but because Mr Waalkens' is asking for a "completely different" sentence to the Crown, he could not do the matter justice and would be unable to ask the right questions.

Justice Brewer adjourned the sentencing to later this month.

At Banbrook's last court appearance in June, the 66-year-old 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 has 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."

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."

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.

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

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 $3.5m.

Last month fellow director Carol Anne Braithwaite was found guilty of making untrue statements in a National Finance prospectus, released in September 2005. She will be sentenced next month.

- APNZ

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