A man standing for election to a regional council is a convicted fraudster jailed for his part in one of the country's biggest property scams.
But former property valuer James Thomas Findlay still contends he was wrongly convicted and says he does not need to disclose the decade-old crimes.
Findlay, who is vying for the Hamilton seat in the Waikato Regional Council byelection, was convicted in 2007 for his role in a $6.4 million property fraud involving 25 mortgage brokers, lawyers, accountants and managers.
The mortgage ramping scheme that scammed millions from vulnerable low-income homeowners and buyers - described by a judge as "predatory" and "insidious" - cost many victims their homes, including an elderly widow who had cancer.
A five-year police investigation into the fraud, codenamed Operation Allsorts, culminated in a series of high profile trials lasting months in the High Court at Hamilton in the mid-to-late 2000s, where some of the longest sentences for fraud were meted out.
Findlay pleaded not guilty to 16 fraud charges but was convicted of seven and sentenced to a year in prison in July 2007, later increased to 18 months when he appealed.
He provided property valuations for the scheme's ringleader, former Hamilton mortgage broker Miles John McKelvy, who received an eight-year jail sentence after admitting 27 charges in 2006.
Findlay, now 67, is one of 10 standing for a vacancy created by the death of councillor Lois Livingston late last year. He did not disclose his record on his election profile.
He told the Herald on Sunday he was not required to disclose the convictions but would explain them to any voter who asked.
"The whole thing was bulls***. Somewhere between 5 and 15 per cent of all convictions are wrong, and mine were wrong."
Findlay said as a valuer he did 136 reports for McKelvy on 40 properties, mostly mortgagee sales that the Crown said were inflated.
"The Crown seemed to somehow get the judge to believe a mortgagee sale is a market value. Mortgagee sales are not market value.
"They sell for anything from 50-70 per cent of the market value. They said that because I valued them at market value I was cranking the values up for someone to borrow money against it."
Findlay denied there were any victims in the process, and said no one was affected by his work.
"Nobody lost any money. Why did they lose their homes? Because the bank was selling them up."
Findlay, a farming consultant for 40 years, said he wanted to move on and was standing for regional council with the support of clients.
But Ripeka Maxwell, who lost her home in the scam, was angry to learn Findlay could be elected to public office.
The 62-year-old Hamilton woman was a single mum of four young children when she was introduced to McKelvy and his associates by her niece who wanted a loan to return to Australia.
Maxwell said she was not business-minded and was taken in by the group's deception, losing her three-bedroom home in Cambridge despite only owing $14,000 on the mortgage, and ending up in a state house.
She said Findlay should not stand and did not deserve a seat.
"Don't let that man in. It makes me angry. It was really hurtful what they did. Me and my kids have got nothing.
"They said 'Just sign the paper and the money will come in soon'. I was just a poor lady in a hurry for some money and so I just signed [away ownership of the home]."
Another byelection candidate, Clyde Graf, was convicted of robbing a bank in Australia in 1986. Graf, who was a Waikato regional councillor in the last term, was sentenced to 10 years in jail after walking into a Brisbane bank brandishing an imitation pistol.
Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne said candidates were not required to disclose their criminal history and a criminal record was no barrier to standing for council.
"It is up to the candidates to decide what information they want to disclose in their 150-word profile statements."
A base salary for a regional councillor is $60,180. Voting documents are being sent out tomorrow.