Charge against former CFO withdrawn

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced on August 6 that it was withdrawing a charge of false accounting previously laid against former Chief Financial Officer of South Canterbury Finance Limited, Graeme Brown.

The charge was withdrawn prior to the appearance of the remaining defendants and commencement of a pre-trial hearing this morning in the Timaru High Court.

SFO Acting Chief Executive Simon McArley said that the decision to withdraw the charge against Mr Brown, the only one he was facing in relation to the South Canterbury Finance investigation, followed submissions received on behalf of Mr Brown, reassessment of the evidence held and additional witness interviews.

“We continually review the charges we are bringing to trial to ensure they remain appropriate. I am acutely conscious that we must continually assess whether the charges that we are prosecuting remain both fair and in the public interest. In this case, a combination of factors, including clarification of existing evidence, meant that I was no longer satisfied that the available evidence supported this charge to the standard required,” he said.

The trial of the remaining defendants has been set for March 12, 2014.

In December 2011, SFO laid 21 charges following a 12-month investigation into the affairs of South Canterbury Finance.

The charges alleged offences under the Crimes Act 1961, including: theft by a person in a special relationship; obtaining by deception; false statements by the promoter of a company; and false accounting.

The offences carry maximum penalties of between seven and 10 years imprisonment.

Serious Fraud Office Press Release

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