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CORRECT: Ex-Rockforte director pleads guilty to fraud

CORRECT: Ex-Rockforte director pleads guilty to fraud charges

(Fixes status of Jean Jones stores in 5th graph)

Sept. 2 (BusinessDesk) – Colin Simpson, a former director of failed Gisborne-based lender Rockforte Finance, has pleaded guilty to nine fraud charges of the 34 laid by the Serious Fraud Office, leaving the two remaining defendants to stand trial at the end of the month.

Simpson has been remanded on bail for sentencing on Sept. 26 after he pleaded guilty to charges of theft by a person in special relationship, false accounting, obtaining by deception, and false statement by promoter.

The offences carry prison sentences of between seven years and 10 years, the SFO said in a statement. Nigel O’Leary and John Gardner will stand trial on Sept. 30.

“Although people have attempted to make prudent investments, Mr Simpson’s actions have led to the consequential failure of several businesses,” general manager of evaluation and intelligence Graham Gill said. “This has had a significant impact on the Gisborne community and resulted in the loss of financial investments and jobs.”

The white-collar crime investigator alleges a significant portion of investor money was used to fund the directors’ personal business interests in Gisborne Haulage and Michael Ward 1969, which operated the Jean Jones label before the chain was sold by its receivers. Investor losses amount to some $3.9 million.

Rockforte was placed into receivership in May 2010 after it had 318 loans worth $4.8 million outstanding, some $1.1 million of which were deemed overdue.


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