The former accountant for failed finance company National Finance 2000 has been sentenced to 18 months' jail.

John Gray 41, plead guilty to theft and false accounting charges last month and was remanded on bail pending an appeal of the decision not to grant him home detention in the Auckland District Court today.

He was also ordered to pay reparation of $50,000.

Gray's lawyer Sanjay Patel earlier applied for home detention but this was rejected by the court.

The sentence has been labelled as significant by Serious Fraud office chief executive Adam Feeley, who said it would have "important ramifications" for other finance company cases.

Judge Roderick Joyce QC in sentencing, took into account Gray's earlier guilty pleas to the charges and the fact it appeared he had nothing to gain from his offending, but he said this did not excuse him from any wrongdoing.

"While Mr Gray is in all other respects a very decent man, he is one of the parties that stands at the bastion of public protection".

However Judge Joyce accepted there was a "more than arguable" case for an appeal which "could mean an outcome different" from today.

"Much of the difficulty is that the Sentencing Act offers no parameters when considering home detention where it could assist with some clear guidelines," he said.

Patel said his client took full responsibility for his offending and, "unlike others", did not seek to cast off the blame to anyone else.

"His motivation was not greed. He had nothing to gain from this. He lost a considerable amount of money that he had invested in the scheme ... it was simply that he was overborne - but that's no excuse."

Gray was a community minded, family man and his conviction would indelibly blot his professional career meaning he could no longer work as a chartered accountant, Patel said.

"He has lost his ticket forever."

Gray had been a model citizen since the offending, undertaking volunteer work for the North Harbour Rugby Union and the East Coast Bays Volunteer Fire Brigade, Patel said.

SFO chief executive Adam Feeley said the sentence sent a clear message to the public on how the courts viewed serious white collar crime.

"This is a very significant result," he said. "It will be of great comfort to investors, and sends a positive message to the investing public about the integrity of our financial markets, and the consequences for breaching the law."

Former National Finance director, Trevor Ludlow, has also been charged by the SFO with offences relating to the misuse of funds.

He is yet to enter a plea in relation to the charges and a trial date has not been set.

National Finance was placed in receivership on May 10, 2006, owing 2000 investors $24 million. Its core business was car finance.