SFO drops Vending Technologies investigation

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has decided to drop the investigation against Vending Technologies Limited (VTL) Group, its Directors and Management, citing lack of proper evidence as the reason.

Director Adam Feeley said his Office had decided to accept the advice of the Crown Solicitor that the evidence provided was insufficient to pursue the investigation further.

SFO has been investigating three licensing transactions that VTL had signed with a US based company in December 2005, June 2006 and December 2006.

Mr Feeley said these licences had a significant effect on the financial results of VTL for the full and half year accounting periods ending December 2005, June 2006 and December 2006.

He said the investigation related principally to the authenticity of these licensing transactions.

Mr Feeley said prior to pressing criminal charges, his Office had to be satisfied there was a reasonable prospect, based on credible evidence which could be admitted in Court, that an impartial jury could be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the person prosecuted has committed a criminal offence.

“This investigation has been ongoing in one form or another since December 2008. We have considered all sources of evidence available to us, interviewed a number of key witnesses but could not reach the threshold of sufficiently reliable evidence for a criminal prosecution,” he said.

According to him, VTL was the last of “Legacy Cases” of the SFO, in which a tough decision had to be made to discontinue the investigation.

“The matter would be reviewed if further fresh evidence became available. We are now focused on fresh cases,” he said.

The facts

The SFO said Nathans Finance New Zealand Limited traded as a finance company accepting deposits from the public. It was placed into receivership on August 20, 2008 owing 7082 public investors approximately $174 million.

Its parent company VTL Group Limited operated a vending machine franchise business in New Zealand, Australia, North America and Europe.

VTL was listed on the NZSX market. The proceeds of the deposits accepted by Nathans were almost entirely lent to VTL or individuals and entities participating in VTL’s franchising programme.

VTL was placed in receivership on November 5, 2008.

The SFO commenced investigation on December 8, 2008.

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