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Finance company legal advisor found guilty of fraud

Finance company legal advisor found guilty of fraud

Hugh Edward Staples Hamilton (62) has been found guilty at the Auckland High Court today of 14 charges arising out of the collapse of Belgrave Finance Limited (Belgrave Finance). The charges were brought in a joint prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA).

The charges related to loans, with a value of more than $12 million, made by Belgrave Finance to various related companies between June 2005 and March 2008.

Mr Hamilton, a former barrister and solicitor, was a legal adviser to the other individuals, Mr Schofield, Mr Smith and Mr Buckley, who were charged in relation to Belgrave for substantive fraudulent representations and use of Belgrave investors’ funds.

Mr Hamilton was found not guilty of 25 charges, these included 11 charges of false statement by a promoter, 11 Companies Act charges of making a false statement to a trustee and three theft charges.

Justice Faire’s comments regarding the verdict, included that he was satisfied that Mr Hamilton “had knowledge that Mr Schofield, Mr Smith or Mr Buckley, through their borrowing were causing Belgrave to be in breach of the Debenture Trust Deed.” Justice Faire also found beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Hamilton “intended to assist in the offending”.

FMA Head of Enforcement, Belinda Moffat, said, “Professional advisers play a critical role in ensuring compliance in financial markets. This case shows that advisers who fail in this basic obligation and who are instrumental in enabling their clients to commit financial crimes will be held accountable for their actions.”

SFO Director, Julie Read, added, “This was a complex matter which has been dealt with through our coordination with the FMA, ensuring the most effective and efficient application of specialist skills and resources to the investigation.”

Mr Hamilton has been remanded on bail and will next appear for sentencing on 4 July 2014.

ENDS

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