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Balclutha Livestock Agent Sentenced For Fraud

A Balclutha livestock agent has been sentenced to 12 months home detention on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

John Francis Williams (40) was sentenced today in the Dunedin High Court having pleaded guilty to two representative charges of ‘False accounting’, one representative charge of ‘Obtaining by deception’ and one charge of ‘Causing loss by deception’.

At the time of his offending Mr Williams was employed as an agent by Rural Livestock Limited, the largest privately-owned livestock and station company in the South Island.

Mr Williams defrauded his employer as well as his clients by submitting false sale notes related to livestock sales and leasing agreements. At times he presented himself as the vendor of animals he didn’t own, sold stock which did not exist, or created a fictitious entity. This caused Rural Livestock to incorrectly invoice or credit farmers who knew nothing of the transactions or had relied on Mr Williams’ handshake agreement.

When errors were detected, Mr Williams used further false sale notes or gaps in the livestock transport, identification, tracing and management systems to disguise his offending. As a result, Rural Livestock and farmers were left with conflicting records in relation to the stock and losses far greater than the benefit Mr Williams secured for himself.

Rural Livestock suffered approximately $1.3 million in losses as the direct result of Mr Williams’ offending and through compensating affected farmers. Mr Williams has agreed to make partial reparation to Rural Livestock.

The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Mr Williams took advantage of the livestock industry’s traditional relationship-based trading practises for his own gain. By exploiting vulnerabilities in the system, he abused the trust placed in him by his employer and the farmers he worked with.”

 

Crimes Act offences

260 False accounting

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, with intent to obtain by deception any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, or to deceive or cause loss to any other person,—

(a) makes or causes to be made, or concurs in the making of, any false entry in any book or account or other document required or used for accounting purposes; or

(b) omits or causes to be omitted, or concurs in the omission of, any material particular from any such book or account or other document; or

(c) makes any transfer of any interest in a stock, debenture, or debt in the name of any person other than the owner of that interest.

240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception
(1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,—

(a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or

(b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or

(c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or

(d) causes loss to any other person.

(1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered.

(2) In this section, deception means—

(a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—

(i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or

(ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or

(b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or

(c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.

About the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.

The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.

The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.

This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.

The SFO has two operational teams: Operations and Strategy and Prevention. In 2020 the SFO’s remit was expanded to include the prevention of financial crime and it launched a Counter Fraud Centre - Tauārai Hara Tāware.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”

Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”

In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:

the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;

the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;

the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;

any relevant public interest considerations.

The SFO’s Annual Report sets out its achievements for the past year, while its Statement of Strategic Intent sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz

The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ

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