Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Former CEO seeks to have charges dismissed

Former Dominion Finance chief executive Paul William Cropp has applied to have criminal charges against him thrown out of court.

Cropp's lawyer, John Billington, QC, made the bid in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.

Cropp, former Dominion Finance directors Terence Butler and Robert Whale and a fourth person with name suppression face Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office alleging theft by a person in a special relationship.

The lawyer for the accused person with name suppression also attempted to have the charges against his client dismissed yesterday.

Justice John Priestley allowed media to report the applications were being made but said details of the hearing were not to be published.

The SFO alleges that between 2004 and 2008, the accused participated in unauthorised related party lending totalling over $20 million in breach of trust deeds.

The four pleaded not guilty to the charges in May, when Butler's lawyer revealed the former director had terminal cancer.

At that time, Justice Timothy Brewer said Butler was "extremely ill" and may not be fit to stand trial, which is due to start next February.

Dominion Finance Group and North South Finance were operating subsidiaries of the NZX-listed Dominion Finance Holdings. Both companies offered property and commercial loans.

DFG went into receivership in September 2008 owing 5937 investors $176.9 million.

Receivers for DFG said last December that debenture holders were likely to get back between 10c and 25c in the dollar. NSF went into receivership in July 2010.

DFH entered voluntary administration in October 2008 and was placed into liquidation in February 2009.

In total, the group is estimated to owe creditors $400 million.

Butler and Whale are also among six Dominion directors accused of misleading investors in DFG and NSF offer documents and advertisements.

This separate case is due to go to trial next June.

- NZ Herald

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