Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Business Insider: Kiwis champs of the British legal system

New Zealand cricketer  Chris Cairns  was found not guilty. Photo / Chris Gorman
New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns was found not guilty. Photo / Chris Gorman

High-profile acquittal makes it three wins in a row for New Zealanders

There's little New Zealanders like more than one of their own succeeding on the world stage.

So Business Insider is at a loss to explain the lack of fervour and flag-waving for three Kiwis who have trounced the British prosecutors pursuing them in the past six months.

The most recent of the trio to achieve a high-profile acquittal in London's Southwark Crown Court is Andrew Grant Harrison, who was charged after what regulators described as the biggest insider-trading investigation in British history.

Harrison, accused of being part of a conspiracy to commit insider trading, was found not guilty by a jury last week.

The London financier, in his mid-40s, spent a chunk of his life in this country and holds New Zealand residency.

He also qualified as a lawyer here and formerly worked at top shelf law firm Bell Gully.

However, Harrison shifted to London 15 years ago and his career has included stints with Lloyds Banking Group and corporate brokerage Panmure Gordon.

He was also one of the men charged by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority after an eight-year investigation which cost nearly £14 million ($30.3 million).

The jury was told of an alleged conspiracy involving military-grade encryption, prepaid cellphones, a man nicknamed "Fatty", another known as "Fruit", and a Swiss deposit box called "Cheese".

Five people have been convicted as a result of the FCA's prosecutions, while three - including Harrison - secured acquittals.

In doing so, he joins Wellington resident Darrell Read, who was found not guilty in January of two charges for conspiracy to defraud.

Read successfully defended allegations from the UK's Serious Fraud Office that he had conspired with two colleagues at London-based broking house ICAP, to make false submissions for Yen Libor for the benefit of UBS trader Tom Hayes.

While Read and other brokers were acquitted, Hayes is part way through an 11-year jail sentence.

But before either Read or Harrison walked free from Southwark's docks, longtime New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns was found not guilty in the same court.

Last November, Cairns was acquitted of perjury and perverting the course of justice over statements he made during his successful libel case against former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi.

Off the leash

Rob Everett. Photo / Richard Robinson
Rob Everett. Photo / Richard Robinson

Market watchdog Rob Everett was never going to be the most welcome speaker at an 800-strong crowd of bankers, fund managers and other professionals he is tasked with policing.

But the Financial Markets Authority chief executive did well to make light of the situation when addressing the audience at Thursday night's Infinz finance industry awards in Auckland.

Although starting off with a joke, Everett's keynote speech had a serious message about how the industry's leaders needed to set an example for others around them.

His address was no doubt a bit awkward for some in the room.

Business Insider wondered if Everett was referring to Milford Asset Management when he brought up people not questioning areas of their business that could be performing "suspiciously well".

The FMA last year reached a $1.5 million settlement with Milford following a market manipulation probe.

It also launched civil action against Milford portfolio manager Mark Warminger, alleging trading he undertook between December 2013 and August 2014 amounted to market manipulation.

Warminger, who has been on extended leave since the FMA's probe began and is defending the case, accepted Milford's trophy when it was named top fund manager at the 2014 Infinz awards for the fifth year in a row.

Everett, in Thursday night's speech, would have also made a few bankers uncomfortable when he mentioned in passing the "mis-selling" of interest rate swaps.

The FMA, in 2014 and 2015, reached settlements with ASB, Westpac, and ANZ over their marketing of these financial instruments.

And the FMA boss' address would also have been awkward for one company director seated within spitting distance of the podium.

Business Insider noted that a board member of Prince & Partners Trustee Company was present at the event.

That firm, the trustee of failed finance company Viaduct Capital, is defending an ongoing FMA lawsuit that alleges it didn't fulfil its obligations.

Softly softly

Inland Revenue seems to be walking on eggshells ahead of the release of the Panama Papers-inspired review of New Zealand's foreign trust laws.

The review, by former PwC chairman John Shewan, will run the ruler over New Zealand's trust disclosure rules and is due back to the Government by June 30.

Although the review was billed as independent, IRD this week used it as a reason why it could withhold the release of documents, reports or briefings concerning the Panama Papers leak.

As well as being covered by secrecy provisions, the IRD's Christina Goodall said the release of the documents could prejudice the outcome of Shewan's inquiry "and consequently have a detrimental effect on the integrity of the tax system".

"For this reason, if secrecy did not apply to this information [which it does], it could be withheld ... because disclosure would be likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law in the context of the inquiry."

- NZ Herald

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