Finance company director accused of manipulating court

By Edward Gay

Trevor Ludlow, former National Finance director, currently serving a prison sentence for theft, will be called to give evidence by another director of the failed company, Anthony Banbrook. Photo / NZ Herald
Trevor Ludlow, former National Finance director, currently serving a prison sentence for theft, will be called to give evidence by another director of the failed company, Anthony Banbrook. Photo / NZ Herald

The former director of a failed finance company is trying to "manipulate the system" by insisting on a 10-day hearing, despite having pleaded guilty to misleading investors, a court has heard.

National Finance former director Anthony David Banbrook appeared in the High Court at Auckland today where he represented himself.

He has previously pleaded guilty to 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.

Crown prosecutor Steve Symon said Banbrook was now disputing more of the Crown case against him, and a new date would be needed for a disputed facts hearing.

"I don't say this light-heartedly, but it is an attempt by my friend to manipulate the system".

The hearing had been set down for five days next month, but because 10 days would now be needed a date has been set in February next year.

Banbrook has said that he will be calling evidence from convicted National Finance director Trevor Allan Ludlow. Ludlow was sentenced last year to five years and seven months in prison after being found guilty of six charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.

Banbrook has also indicated he will call evidence from an expert witness.

He has been practising as a lawyer for 40 years and sat at the defence lawyer's bench instead of the dock.

Banbrook had also asked for a variation. It is understood he is asking for the return of his passport.

However, Justice Pamela Andrews said the application would be opposed by the Crown and would need to be heard at a separate hearing later this month.

When Banbrook pleaded guilty to the charge in June, he asked the judge if he could hang onto his passport.

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

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

Banbrook's lawyer at the time, 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."

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."

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

- APNZ

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