Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Phoenix Forex man avoids home detention

Mark Brewer. Photo / NZ Herald
Mark Brewer. Photo / NZ Herald

A businessman associated with a firm selling controversial trading software has avoided home detention for breaching the conditions of his second bankruptcy after an associate fronted $190,000 for reparations.

Mark Raymond Brewer was bankrupted for a second time in March 2010 and one of the Official Assignee bankruptcy conditions is to not be involved in the direct management of a company.

The 39-year-old admitted breaching those conditions by taking part in the control or management of a computer software company, Intervest Global (NZ), which sold horse race betting software and was placed in liquidation in 2011.

Brewer pleaded guilty to one charge of breaching the Insolvency Act in July and during sentencing today at the Auckland District Court was ordered to pay a $5000 fine and provide $190,000 in reparations.

While indicating at an earlier hearing that a sentence of home detention was appropriate, Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said today that Brewer's ability to provide the reparations to the liquidators of Intervest Global changed things.

Brewer could not pay the reparations himself and would have to "mortgage his future earning capacity" to do so, defence lawyer Brent O'Callaghan told the court.

One of the defendant's associates, David McEwen, could provide the money if Brewer had the ability to travel overseas "for business purposes", the lawyer said.

O'Callaghan said $100,000 was paid into a trust account this afternoon for the reparations and McEwen, who was in the court's public gallery today, would provide the other $90,000 over the next 90 days.

McEwen - a former business journalist - part-owns the parent company of Phoenix Forex, a firm which sold controversial foreign exchange trading software and which employs Brewer as a senior sales person.

In sentencing Brewer, Judge O'Driscoll said an offer of reparation had "some weight" and an actual payment of one took the matter "to another level".

"I have decided to change the sentence which I was originally going to impose on you of home detention and deal with you by way of a fine and reparation. The reason for that is one of the purposes of sentencing is to provide for the interests of the victim," the judge said.

The judge said he did not see the reparation as Brewer "buying his way out of home detention".

"Mr Brewer, don't do anything silly again in the future," the judge said at the hearing's close.

Brewer was first bankrupted in 1997 over a $32,000 debt owed to the American Express credit card company. He was automatically discharged in 2000 and the following year founded Tri Media (NZ) with his wife to import plasma televisions and other electrical goods from India.

This company folded after an exclusive distribution deal with Harvey Norman went sour in 2003 because of repeat issues with faulty products, according to the liquidation report.

- NZ Herald

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