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Rates round-up: January 16

South Canterbury Finance fraud case in court

Monday, 16 January 2012

by Niko Kloeten

The fraud case involving five people associated with South Canterbury Finance will be heard in the Timaru District Court today.

However, the trial of the five individuals, who have name suppression, is likely to be months away at least.

Late last year the Serious Fraud Office laid 21 charges against the five alleging a variety of offences, including theft by a person in a special relationship, obtaining by deception, false statements by the promoter of a company and false accounting.

The charges came three months after former South Canterbury Finance cwner Allan Hubbard died following a car crash.

Today's hearing is likely to deal with adjournments and whether to continue with name suppression for the accused.

South Canterbury Finance collapsed in 2010, costing taxpayers $1.7 billion paid out to debenture holders under the government's deposit guarantee scheme. 

So far the receivers have repaid about $570 million to the government.

Downgrades add to Euro woes

Europe has been hit with a mass ratings downgrade, with Standard and Poor's lowering its credit ratings for nine European countries.

France was among the casualties, losing its coveted AAA rating, while Austria also slipped one notch from AAA.

Germany retained its AAA rating but Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia were all downgraded by one notch Italy, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain were lowered by two notches.

The latest round of downgrades is likely to increase borrowing costs for these countries and could see a continuation of the flight to risk that saw investors accept a negative yield for German government bonds issued last week.

The downgrades have sparked anger in Europe, prompting complaints by European politicians about the American ratings agencies.

Standard & Poor's cut New Zealand's sovereign credit rating in September last year.

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