An unusual corporate fraud case ended yesterday with the jailing of a former Auckland advertising high-flier for his role in a financial scandal that enmeshed two of New Zealand's leading companies.
Former employees of forest giant Carter Holt Harvey and advertising leader Colenso BBDO have been convicted of offences involving secret payments of $243,000.
In the bribery case, brought by the Serious Fraud Office, Justice Geoffrey Venning yesterday sent former Colenso senior accounts director Adrian Hood to jail for two years.
The starting date of his sentence was deferred for two months to allow him to apply for home detention.
Hood, an advertising executive for 18 years, had worked himself up to a position of responsibility at Colenso, managing Carter Holt's customer loyalty programme, the judge said.
Carter Holt was a substantial client of Colenso, and former Carter Holt marketing manager Glen John Keeley and Hood had developed a relationship so that when Colenso decided to contract out its customer loyalty programme, companies owned by Hood and his family secured the business.
Between December 1999 and April 2003, Hood made 45 payments to Keeley as an incentive to keep the business.
Hood's returns from the scheme were far greater than the payments to Keeley, Justice Venning said in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.
In June last year, Justice Simon France jailed Keeley for 10 months.
Keeley pleaded guilty to one charge of accepting a secret commission and breaking the Secret Commissions Act, for which the maximum penalty is two years jail.
Justice Venning said yesterday he took Keeley's sentence into account when jailing Hood.
A jury had found Hood guilty of 45 counts of making secret payments to Keeley and Justice Venning said Hood's offending went against the public's perception that New Zealand business was largely free from corruption.
"This sort of dishonesty, which is effectively bribery to continue a supply of business, is not at all commonplace and should not become so. Cases like this are rare," he told Hood.
"Before this fall from grace, you were a useful member of society."
Hood had sons aged 3 and 6, but his marriage had broken up and he was managing a hotel/motel business in Hamilton, the judge said.
Hood had demonstrated his willingness to get his life "back on track" by managing that business, whose owners hoped at some stage to go into business with him.
An emotional Hood held his face throughout the sentencing, nodded when the judge asked about his remorse and wept openly when mention was made of his former executive career and sons.
Defence lawyer Jeremy Bioletti said Hood's marriage and career were over and he had suffered condemnation from people.
That had taken a toll, leaving him with a siege mentality.
He had suffered "burnout" in his high-pressure role at Colenso, now suffered animosity from many people and his life had disintegrated.
Mr Bioletti asked for a shorter sentence of 12 to 15 months prison.
Prosecutor Mike Ruffin said Hood was classified at low risk of reoffending but the sentence should be longer than suggested by Mr Bioletti.