A long-running saga of three New Zealand businessmen who were found guilty of multi-million-dollar crimes during the global financial crisis has taken another twist.
The Court of Appeal has quashed several of the men's convictions and ordered one be released from prison while completely exonerating another.
The trio were accused by the financial watchdog of deliberately misleading investors and potential investors in an attempt to rescue failing investments during the financial collapse of 2007–2008 (GFC).
McKay and Blackwood were serving as directors of Viaduct Capital, while Bublitz was a board member for Mutual Finance, when the two firms went into receivership in 2010 - owing investors $17 million.
Viaduct Capital and Mutual Finance were part of the government's GFC insurance scheme, meaning any losses would be passed on to the taxpayer.
Recently retired High Court judge Justice Kit Toogood sentenced the men in March, jailing Bublitz for three years and two months.
McKay was sentenced to 12 months' home detention, while Blackwood was ordered to serve a total of nine months' home detention.
However, the men took their cases to the Court of Appeal last month and successfully overturned several convictions, while Bublitz will also walk free from prison.
Today, Justice Murray Gilbert, Justice Edwin Wylie and Justice Susan Thomas released their ruling and said Bublitz's appeal against his convictions was allowed in part, with two of the six charges he was found guilty of set aside.
But the man who began his financial career as an 18-year-old saw his appeal against the remaining four charges dismissed.
Justice Toogood had also acquitted him on six charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.
Despite this, it was the successful appeal of Bublitz's prison term which he may be most pleased about with the Court of Appeal ruling he would now serve a home detention sentence of 11 months.
"This sentence is to commence immediately upon release."
Blackwood, meanwhile, was completely exonerated.
The experienced businessman had been found guilty by Justice Toogood on all four charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, all of which were quashed by the Court of Appeal
He had also found not guilty of one charge of making a false statement by a promoter.
McKay, however, saw his appeal against his convictions dismissed.
He had been found guilty of all three charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.
But Justice Toogood had found the chartered accountant not guilty on two counts of making a false statement by a promoter and acquitted him on one charge of making a false statement to a trustee.
Despite the successful appeals, the High Court heard all three are said to be "ruined financially".
The FMA's case against the three men has been fraught with millions of dollars in legal problems and delays, an aborted trial and even death.
Its investigation into a wider group started in mid-2011, while the Serious Fraud Office also investigated and the Treasury began investigating Viaduct Capital In 2009.
Former chief executive of Blue Chip and director of Viaduct Capital Nick Wevers was also charged but died in 2014.
The FMA withdrew the charges against him after his death.
The Blue Chip group of companies failed in 2008 owing $84 million to investors. Founder Mark Bryers was fined $38,000 and sentenced to 75 hours' community work for poor record-keeping.
Property developer Peter Chevin was also charged and pleaded guilty to nine charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.
He was sentenced in 2017 to nine months' home detention.
The FMA prosecutions included former Mutual Finance board member and chartered accountant Lance Morrison, who managed the financial affairs for Hunter Capital.
But the first trial of Bublitz, McKay, Blackwood and Morrison, which lasted nine months, was aborted in May 2017 after the prosecution failed to disclose some 14,619 documents.
The FMA's foul-up was described as an "extreme example of procedural failure" by Justice Mark Woolford and several charges were dropped against the four men as a result.
"The volume of late disclosure is seemingly unprecedented in New Zealand," Justice Woolford said.
After the first trial was abandoned, the FMA dropped its case against Morrison.
Bublitz, McKay and Blackwood applied to stay the proceedings, but the High Court declined their effort in September 2017.
When sentencing Bublitz, McKay and Blackwood, Justice Toogood gave them a 30 per cent discount for the prosecution's blunders and the case's significant delays.
The FMA had already spent more than $1.65m on external lawyers, investigators and other services when the first trial was halted.
Justice Woolford earlier ordered the FMA to pay $10,000 each to Bublitz, McKay, Blackwood and Morrison and $10,000 to the Ministry of Justice for the aborted trial.
Morrison was paid a further $75,000 towards the costs of his defence.
In 2017, the trustee of Viaduct Capital, Prince and Partners, also settled civil proceedings brought by the FMA for $4.5m after admitting a series of failings.