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Guilty pleas from Capital + Merchant's Australian directors

Guilty pleas from Australia-based Capital + Merchant directors

Feb. 5 (BusinessDesk) - Capital + Merchant Finance directors Robert Sutherland and Colin Ryan have both pleaded guilty to charges of making untrue statements in offer documents and will be sentenced in Auckland next month.

The Australia-based pair admitted two charges of making an untrue statement in a registered prospectus and one charge of distributing advertisements which included an untrue statement, market watchdog the Financial Markets Authority said in a statement. They will be sentenced in the High Court in Auckland on March 15.

"The law requires directors to ensure that investors receive accurate information in disclosure documents," FMA head of enforcement Belinda Moffat said. "FMA regards the guilty pleas of Mr Sutherland and Mr Ryan as reflecting their failure in their obligations to investors in this respect."

The guilty pleas come a week after fellow director Owen Tallentire admitted similar charges. Tallentire is serving a five-year prison sentence after he was found guilty on two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship in a prosecution taken by the Serious Fraud Office.

The FMA's case against directors Neal Nicholls and Wayne Douglas begins next week. Nicholls and Douglas were each sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for their role in the fraud.

The fraud case was broken up into two trials, with the first part dealing with so-called 'Hub' property deals in Palmerston North, of which the three were acquitted. The trio were convicted in relation to the second part of the case relating to $28 million of related party transactions between 2004 and 2006.

The Serious Fraud Office is appealing the acquittals in the 'Hub' transactions.

Capital + Merchant Finance collapsed in 2007 owing some $167.1 million to about 7,500 investors.


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