Agribusiness owner pleads guilty to charges

The owner of an agribusiness pleaded guilty to seven charges including dishonestly using a document and obtaining by deception at the Fielding District Court on January 16, 2012.

Peter Joseph Nitschke (32) of Capehorn Farming Company Limited faced the charges brought against him by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) under the Crimes Act.

The Company operated a beef cattle fattening farming business in the central and lower regions of the North Island, in which cattle purchases were generally financed through specialist livestock finance companies.

It is understood that the Company fell into financial difficulty as a result of falling beef prices in late 2009.

According to the SFO, Mr Nitschke obtained over $880,000 from lenders in early 2010 for cattle that did not exist. It was further alleged that he fraudulently sought $1.5 million in refinancing from BNZ to repay loans for the non-existent cattle and for cattle that had already been sold.

BNZ placed Capehorn in receivership in December 2010, with PricewaterhouseCoopers as receivers.

The matter was subsequently referred to the SFO in March 2011.

Mr Nitschke will reappear in the Fielding District Court for sentencing on February 20, 2012.

A statement issued by the SFO said that everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration (a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document or (b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

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