Mortgage fraudster jailed

By Hamish Fletcher

A former South Auckland self-described business coach, who claimed the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) fabricated evidence against him, has been sentenced to three years in jail for his role in a mortgage fraud.

Shane Charles Wenzel, 51, was found guilty in October of two charges of using a document with intent to defraud and six charges of using a document dishonestly with intent to obtain pecuniary advantage.

The case against Wenzel followed the sale and purchase of South Auckland properties during a jump in the market between May 2003 and October 2004.

Bankrupt during this time, Wenzel ran business seminars in Takanini and coached "recruits" about wealth generation.

A number of these recruits bought properties from a friend of Wenzel or companies associated with that person.

The SFO, which brought the case against Wenzel, argued that the discharged bankrupt devised and supervised a scheme in which mortgage lenders were deceived into lending money to these recruits.

According to the SFO, the recruits would not have been given mortgages if the lenders had been aware of their true financial position.

In some instances, false employment letters were used that inflated the loan applicants' incomes.

Wenzel was sentenced to three years' jail when he appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday.

Acting SFO chief executive Simon McArley said this sort of crime had a big impact on vulnerable investors.

"The loss of their investment funds will have irrevocably changed their lives. We remain deeply concerned for all his victims.

"We will continue to lead the investigation and prosecution of this type of high impact financial crime," McArley said.

Wenzel's main defence at his trial was that the recruits were adults and as "aspiring property developers" took advice and decided about loan applications without his encouragement.

Last month, Wenzel claimed the SFO had fabricated evidence during his seven-week trial.

It was the second time Wenzel's case had gone through the court system after he succeeded in getting his convictions quashed in 2010 by the Court of Appeal.

In that Court of Appeal decision, Justices Anthony Randerson, Judith Potter and Paul Heath ordered a retrial on the 35 fraud charges of which Wenzel was originally found guilty.

He had already served 11 months of the five years' jail he was sentenced to after the first trial.

According to a 2009 media report, Wenzel has claimed status as tangata whenua and said that he was "adopted"into a hapu.

Judge Gerard Thomas Winter made reference to this in his October judgment against Wenzel and said the accused was at times "challenging" and held unorthodox, often forcefully expressed, life views.

- Northern Advocate

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