Man pleads guilty after 'elaborate scheme'

The men pleaded guilty in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / File
The men pleaded guilty in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / File

An Auckland man tied up with disgraced insurance broker Marcus Friedlander has pleaded guilty to fraud and perverting the course of justice charges.

Ralph Vuletic, 31, entered guilty pleas to one charge of making a false document, one of using a document in order to gain a pecuniary advantage and one of willfully attempting to pervert the course of justice when he appeared in the High Court at Auckland today.

The offending took place in 2002 and 2003, when Friedlander, 58, was fighting bankruptcy and owing creditors more than $41 million.

Friedlander, 57, has previously pleaded guilty to 20 counts of making forged documents, three of using a document for a pecuniary advantage and two of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

SFO acting chief executive Simon McArley said the men "executed an elaborate scheme to avoid Mr Friedlander's bankruptcy and short change his creditors".

"The SFO believes that bringing this behaviour to account goes some way to restoring confidence in the New Zealand legal system, and particularly the fairness of the insolvency regime.

"This marks the end of a nine and a half year investigation and prosecution for the SFO, and demonstrates the office's determination and perseverance in cases with strong public interest."

The National Business review reported in 2003, when Vuletic was 22, that he was the property industry's youngest "mover and shaker" with a glamorous lifestyle "to rival a 1980s high-flier".

"When most people of his age are just starting out, he is driving a convertible Ferrari and doing property deals."

According to acquaintances, the newspaper reported, other aspects of Vuletic's life sounded like something out of a Hollywood action film.

"They say he owns a collectable Walther PPK gun, the model favoured by James Bond, and has a fulltime bodyguard."

He is quoted in the 2002 edition of a law newsletter talking about his Ferrari: "In this industry (youth) can work against you. Cars speak plainly about success. People seem to be more impressed by what you drive than what you save," he said.

Friedlander will be sentenced on December 10 and Vuletic on November 29.

He declined to comment outside court.

- APNZ

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