The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced today that it has laid 110 charges against seven people alleged to have participated in a loan fraud involving Dunedin-based vehicle finance company, MTF.

All seven of the accused appeared in the Auckland District Court today.

Mark James Whelan (38), formerly an Auckland-based retail dealer for MTF and later a franchisee of the company, is facing 25 individual charges and 41 joint charges of obtaining by deception under the Crimes Act.

It is alleged that between July 2005 and February 2009 Whelan wrote a number of loans in the names of family, friends and associates using various non-existent assets as security.

Advertisement

SFO Chief Executive Adam Feeley said he is accused of obtaining loans totalling $4.9 million and using those funds for personal gain, including the purchase of land, servicing of personal debts, and investing in a futures trading scheme.

"These individuals have allegedly colluded together to defraud MTF, to the detriment of the business," Feeley said.

"Where we see instances such as this, in which any party is suspected of knowingly taking advantage of their role or association with a company, the SFO will take decisive action to ensure that those involved are held to account," he said.

Six other individuals are facing joint charges under the Crimes Act for their roles in obtaining illegal funds under Whelan's scheme.

They are: Richard Michael Barnett (43), 16 charges; Jonathan Earle Chiswell (35), three charges; Clark Antony Lewis (35), six charges; Brett Royce Donaldson (49), seven charges; Steward Travis Saunders (42), one charge; and Karl Sean Toussaint (40), five charges.

Chiswell, Lewis and Whelan are also facing a further three joint charges.

The SFO opened its investigation into Whelan in September last year.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE

Advertisement