Sir Doug Graham to keep knighthood: Key
Sir Doug Graham to keep knighthood after Supreme Court upholds convictions
By Paul McBeth
Nov. 1 (BusinessDesk) - Prime Minister John Key has decided against stripping former Lombard Finance & Investment chairman Sir Doug Graham of his knighthood after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction last week.
The Prime Minister based his decision on the fact that Graham was knighted for his leading role in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, the fact that the conviction was one of strict liability, meaning dishonest or criminal intent didn’t have to be proved, and that it was very rare for honours to be cancelled, he said in a statement. Bill Jeffries and Lawrence Bryant will also retain their honours for similar reasons, he said.
“New Zealand is a better country today because of the work Sir Douglas did as Treaty Negotiations Minister and my judgement is that he deserves to retain his knighthood,” Key said. “Sir Douglas retired from Parliament in 1999 leaving a significant political legacy in the area of treaty settlements that subsequent Labour and National-led governments have worked to build on.”
Key said he had given the matter a lot of thought since it first went to court in 2011, and took into account “the ongoing financial hardship that many Lombard investors suffered as a result of the company’s collapse.”
Some 4,400 Lombard Finance investors were owed $127 million at the time of the firm’s receivership in April 2008.
Last week, the country’s top court turned down an attempt by former Justice Ministers Graham and Jeffries, and by Bryant and Lombard’s ex-boss Michael Reeves to appeal their convictions for signing off on false statements by omission in the finance company’s prospectus, saying there was no appearance of a miscarriage of justice, and that the appeal didn’t raise a point of law of general or public importance.
The bench, made up of Chief Justice Sian Elias and Justices William Young and Susan Glazebrook, did grant the men leave to appeal their sentences, particularly as to whether imprisonment was necessary.
The Lombard Four received harsher sentences earlier this year after the Crown appealed the non-custodial terms dished out by the High Court.
Jeffries was sentenced to eight months’ home detention and 250 hours community work and Reeves was sentenced to nine months home detention and 250 hours community work, having both initially been sentenced to 400 hours community work.
Graham and Bryant were each sentenced to six months home detention and fines of $100,000 apiece. Graham had his sentence of community work reduced to 200 hours from 300 hours.
All four avoided jail time when sentenced in March last year, when Justice Robert Dobson said the offending was much less serious than that involving other failed finance companies, such as Bridgecorp. They had been found guilty of making untrue statements in investment documents and advertisements in late 2007 and early 2008 and the Crown had initially sought jail terms.