Business reporter for the NZ Herald

'Cynical and calculated' fraudster loses bid to reduce sentence

Benjamin Anthony Kiro, a former professional league player.
Benjamin Anthony Kiro, a former professional league player.

A "cynical and calculated" fraudster who ripped off vulnerable victims and faked his CV to get a job with the Financial Markets Authority has lost his bid to reduce his jail sentence.

Benjamin Anthony Kiro, a former professional league player, convinced women he met on online dating sites such as Tinder, or businessmen introduced to him by associates, to invest in companies soon to list on the stock exchange.

The funds given to Kiro, about $250,000, were never invested or were obtained by deception. At the end of April, he had paid only $62,000 back. In some instances, Kiro sent investors false valuations of their shareholdings, which purported to come from reputable financial institutions. These documents were forgeries.

Kiro, 35, also forged his academic record from Australian universities and used a false curriculum vitae to get a job at the FMA, where he worked for three months in 2014.

Despite pleading guilty on the back of a sentence indication - a mechanism where a defendant finds out the term they could get if they admit the allegations they face - Kiro went on to appeal his four-and-a-half year jail sentence.

His lawyer, Asishna Prasad, argued the sentence should have been reduced because:

• Kiro was ordered to pay a $75,000 reparation.

• A restorative justice process was not adequately explored nor followed.

• Kiro had no prior convictions and deserved time off his sentence for his previous good character.

• The sentencing judge wrongly took into account fraud charges Kiro is facing in Australia.

However, none of these arguments swayed Justice Ed Wylie, who did not think the sentence imposed on Kiro was excessive.

"I am not persuaded that any discount should have been given to Mr Kiro because an order was made that he pay back part of what he should never have had in the first place," the judge said.

"The end sentence was one of four years and six months' imprisonment. A reparation order was imposed in addition. As I have noted it required Mr Kiro to pay back some of the monies which he had stolen from others. For the reasons I have set out ... it did not justify a further discount. Mr Kiro's offending was cynical and calculated. It involved a large number of vulnerable victims. The nature of the offending, and the effect it had on the victims, required denunciation," Justice Wylie said.

- NZ Herald

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