A foreign exchange broker who defrauded his clients by forging dozens of documents will remain behind bars, while his recollection of the offending concerns the Parole Board.
The incarceration of the Forex Brokers Limited (FBL) director came after an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the wake of the Auckland firm's collapse in 2017, leaving creditors reportedly owed $15 million.
Maher had a legitimate business providing foreign exchange services from his Queen St office, but the trading position deteriorated. The Herald last year revealed his desperate attempts to keep the firm afloat as he began forging transaction confirmations and bank correspondence while avoiding publicising his true financial position.
Having spent a year in prison and being held at the Northern Region Corrections Facility near Kaikohe, Maher had his first hearing before the Parole Board last week.
But the now 54-year-old minimum security inmate was declined an early release, with the board noting in its decision: "We [are] concerned about a number of things."
While Maher's behaviour in prison was described as compliant and he has a good work ethic with a positive attitude, the board said his memory of the offending was way off.
"Mr Maher's recollection of the offending is that it was over a period of five months and he became significantly stressed, in fact the offending took place over two years," the decision released to the Herald reads.
The businessman also told the board at the time of his crimes he was suffering from several issues, and under the stress of the business suffering financial problems he made "very poor judgments".
He told the board he did not intend to handle other people's money ever again.
"Mr Maher has presented a safety plan that he wrote himself. His case manager said he offered to assist, but he advised the board that Mr Maher declined help. He said he could do it himself. We are also concerned that Mr Maher tells us that he has learned that he needs to look for support, but he has turned his back on possible support ...
"In terms of his safety plan, there are aspects of it that do not reflect his risk or adequately offer mitigation, there was some unravelling of it when Mr Maher elaborated on his intentions behind it, however it does not fully explain the length of his offending."
The board said Maher has not had any rehabilitation to address the causes of his offending and was still considered an undue risk to the community of reoffending.
Maher will be seen by the Parole Board again in four months.
Maher had operated FBL from 1995 until 2017, while shares in the company were held by him and his wife. The website for FBL said Maher had "over 20 years' experience in the foreign currency industry" and "an extremely high level of business integrity and customer service".
The company, founded in 1995, was placed into liquidation in April 2017 and Maher was declared bankrupt in November 2018.
After FBL's failure there was also a dispute over a cache of gold and silver bullion - estimated to be worth $500,000 - which was inside a locked safe in the Dingwall Building office.
As part of his business, Maher had sought "retail" clients such as car yards and other importers who required foreign exchange services. He also had "investment" clients who deposited money with FBL in return for a fixed interest rate, and traded currencies on behalf of some of them.
But in 2014 the kiwi dollar weakened significantly against the US dollar, leaving Maher in a hole.
"I had tried to devise a plan to start returning investor funds and start scaling back the company until I could close it down, but I ran out of time and cash flow," Maher told liquidators.
The SFO described Maher's crimes as "dishonest, repetitive, premeditated" and arrogant as he tried to maintain the facade of a successful business.
It left his clients millions of dollars out of pocket, however, the true scale of the fraud may never be known, liquidators have said and court documents show.