Update: Parole Board over-relied on Petricevic-paid psych report
(Updates with comments from Parole Board counsel throughout)
By Suze Metherell
Sept. 4 (BusinessDesk) - The Sensible Sentencing Trust says the Parole Board shouldn't have relied on a single psychologist report paid for by former Bridgecorp boss Rod Petricevic, and opposes his release half-way into his six-year, 10-month sentence.
The trust is seeking a judicial review of the board's decision to grant Petricevic parole, which would see him released on Monday, at a hearing in the High Court in Wellington before Justice Rebecca Ellis.
Francis Cooke QC appearing for the Parole Board said the Sensible Sentencing Trust had no standing to bring the review as it wasn't a direct victim of the offender's actions.
The trust "is a group in the community that has a particular view about crime and punishment," Cooke said. "They do not have standing ... it would be somewhat different if it was an issue of systemic illegality but it's not, it's an individual case."
The trust was cynical of the Parole Board's decision, but its interest was no different to the wider public's, something the board already considered, he said.
Former Act Party MP David Garrett, counsel for the trust, told the court that Garth McVicar, founder of the trust, has advised him three members of Sensible Sentencing Trust were victims of Bridgecorp but did not want to be named.
Petricevic was turned down twice by the board for failing to show any remorse and then released after a third hearing.
Garrett told the court the only circumstance that changed in the last hearing was Petricevic paying for a private psychologist to write a report saying he now felt remorse for his actions.
"This psychologist must be the best guy since Freud" after the "remarkable transformation" for Petricevic to feel sorry for his crimes, Garrett said.
"He is worse than an illiterate who sticks up liquor stores," he said. "The man rips off people's money."
Petricevic was convicted in 2010 of deliberately making false statements to trustees and distributing offer documents containing false statements while knowing Bridgecorp was heavily in debt. The failed finance company owed $459 million to 14,500 investors when it went into receivership in 2007 and investors have since been repaid about 10 cents in the dollar.
The 66-year-old told the board he would retire and had no intention of offering advice or being involved in any business after his release.
This is the first time the Sensible Sentencing Trust has taken action over a white-collar crime. The organisation runs on donations from ordinary people, some of whom have lost their life savings in the finance company collapses.
The High Court action is being prosecuted by lawyers acting pro bono, including Garrett.
The hearing is set down for one day and is continuing.