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SFO gives up pursuing Nathans Finance parent

SFO gives up pursuing Nathans Finance parent

by Paul McBeth

Nov. 26 (BusinessDesk) – The Serious Fraud Office has given up its pursuit of VTL Group, the parent of failed lender Nathans Finance Ltd.

Director Adam Feeley said the white-collar crime investigator “considered all sources of evidence available to us, and interviewed a number of key witnesses, but cannot reach the threshold of sufficiently reliable evidence for a criminal prosecution.”

The SFO was investigating the authenticity of three licensing transactions the company entered into with an American company in 2005 and 2006. VTL was listed on the NZX, and operated a vending machine franchise in New Zealand, Australia, North America and Europe.

“While there are some frustrations with the outcome, the team accept the advice of the Crown Solicitor that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the matter further,” Feeley said in a statement.

“In order to lay criminal charges the SFO had to be satisfied there was a reasonable prospect, based on credible evidence which could be admitted in Court, that an impartial jury could be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the person prosecuted has committed a criminal offence.”

That’s the second case the SFO has dropped in as many months after it closed its investigation into property investment group Blue Chip and its director Mark Bryers.

Feeley said this was the last of the office’s legacy cases, and meant it can focus on new investigations which are expected to be completed in “quicker timeframes.”

Nathans Finance, a VTL subsidiary, was sent to the receivers in 2007 owing some 7,000 investors about $174 million. Its directors face criminal and civil proceedings by the Securities Commission, and will stand trial in March.

(BusinessDesk) 16:21:54

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