A former All Blacks coach, an ex-Olympic rower and rich-lister, and a high-profile chairman went in to bat for former wine boss Peter Scutts who was sentenced to eight months' home detention yesterday.
Scutts, 59, a former chief executive of the Auckland Blues rugby franchise, will serve that sentence at an undisclosed address.
He had references when appearing in the High Court at Auckland yesterday from former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, broadcaster Murray Deaker, former Olympic rower Peter Masfen and high-profile businessman Michael Stiassny.
He declined, through his lawyer, to release these and other references to the Weekend Herald.
In a case brought by the Serious Fraud Office, Scutts was in May found guilty of 16 charges of dishonestly using a document and one Secret Commission Act charge of receiving secret reward for procuring contracts.
Scutts, a former New Zealand Wine Company chief executive, struck an agreement where Liquor Marketing Group would pay him A$1 for every supplied case of wine they sold.
Crucially in his case, Justice Mary Peters found this agreement was reached before New Zealand Wine Company signed a supply contract with LMG.
Scutts, who acted as a consultant for New Zealand Wine Company in 2009 and became its chief executive in June 2011, would go on to receive about $64,000 from Liquor Marketing Group.
The agreement with LMG established an offence under the Secret Commissions Act. Under that law, someone breaks the law if they advise a person to enter into a contract with a third party and receives or agrees to receive a gift or reward from that third party without the original person's consent or knowledge.
Each dishonestly using a document charge represented an invoice sent to LMG to obtain the A$1 per case.