Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Rod Petricevic: From jail to $1.5m pad

Rod Petricevic, jailed in 2012, is now living in central Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Rod Petricevic, jailed in 2012, is now living in central Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

One of New Zealand's most notorious white-collar criminals is back living in an upmarket part of Auckland after his release from jail six months ago.

One investor, who lost more than $1 million when finance company Bridgecorp collapsed in 2007, is upset its former boss, Rod Petricevic, is now living in a $1.5m central Auckland townhouse.

"There is something terribly wrong with the justice system," said 74-year-old Rex Warren, from Katikati.

"Some people work the whole of their lives, save money, invest it and lose it just like that. But someone can spend a few years in prison and come out to live in a place like that.

"My wife and I could have had quite a nice retirement, but it's been restricted because we lost that much money. I carried on working for another five or six years and have only retired two years ago."

Thousands of investors were owed $459m when Bridgecorp failed in 2007. Some lost their life savings.

Almost nine years on, investors have only got back 12 per cent, according to the latest report from Bridgecorp's receivers.

Petricevic, who is his 60s, does not own the $1.5m home where he lives. A neighbouring property, part of the same set of townhouses, was last year rented for $1000 a week.

It is not yet known how the former Remuera resident is funding his lifestyle and he did not respond to questions sent to his lawyer.

He told a parole board last year that he planned to retire on his release from jail.

Petricevic was bankrupt from 2008 until September 2011, less than two months before he went on trial in the High Court.

In that case, the former financier was found guilty of misleading investors, along with fellow board members Rob Roest and Peter Steigrad. Co-directors Bruce Davidson and Gary Urwin had earlier pleaded guilty to similar offending.

Petricevic was denied legal aid before the trial, mainly because a family trust was deemed to have sufficient assets to fund his defence. That trust, in March 2009, had equity of $5.2m. It also owned his former mansion in Remuera, which was sold in 2011 to fund civil litigation.

Petricevic was jailed for 6½ years in 2012. At his sentencing, Justice Geoffrey Venning was not satisfied Petricevic had shown genuine remorse for his actions.

"You may be sorry the investors lost their money, but that is not true remorse. You do not accept responsibility for those losses.

"You still apparently do not consider you did anything wrong. You maintain your innocence," the judge said.

The disgraced businessman then had four months added to his sentence after admitting buying a luxury boat with Bridgecorp money.

He was denied parole some two years later on the grounds he could still pose an undue risk to the safety of the community.

Despite his claiming he was "truly remorseful" and that he took full responsibility for his actions, the parole board said it was not persuaded that Petricevic was genuinely sorry.

A second attempt at freedom was refused in February last year, with the parole board saying Petricevic "maintained a degree of entitlement to act in the way that he did given what he said he knew at the time of his offending".

Some six months later, the parole board said Petricevic was "chastened" and seemed to express genuine remorse.

Out of prison, he is banned from working and having any role in the affairs of any business, trust, company or voluntary organisation without his probation officer's approval. He cannot handle money for anyone else or give anyone finance advice.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust went to the High Court last September to try keep Petricevic behind bars. However a judge said the organisation had no standing to challenge the parole board's decision to release him.

- Herald on Sunday

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