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Rates round-up: February 27

Lombard directors convicted; Petricevic and Roest take the stand; ANZ to issue seven-year bonds.

Monday, 27 February 2012

by Niko Kloeten

The four directors of failed finance company Lombard Finance have been convicted, but they won't be facing jail time.

In a judgment released on Friday, Justice Robert Dobson found Michael Reeves, Lawrence Bryant and former Cabinet ministers Sir Douglas Graham and Bill Jeffries guilty of making false statements in investment documents and advertisements in late 2007 and early 2008.

They were found not guilty on charges relating to the distribution of a DVD advertisement.

Justice Dobson ruled out jail time for the four, saying the offending was "a material step away from the seriousness required for a custodial sentence".

However, the Lombard saga is far from over; while they await sentencing,  the directors also face the prospect of civil action by the FMA on behalf of out-of-pocket investors, with up to $10 million in compensation claims at stake.

Sir Douglas and Jeffries will also lose their taxpayer-funded travel perks for former MPs.

Meanwhile, investors are pushing for Sir Douglas to be stripped of his knighthood, which was given to him in honour of his services to the Treaty of Waitangi claims process.

Petricevic didn't read full prospectus

Former Bridgecorp managing director Rod Petricevic has admitted he didn't read in full a prospectus he signed off.

He made the admission in the High Court at Auckland last week, when he took the stand in his own defence against charges alleging he and the other Bridgecorp directors misled investors about the health of the company in 2007.

Bridgecorp collapsed in July that year owing more than 14,000 investors $459 million; according to the receivers investors will probably get less than 10c in the dollar.

Fellow directors Rob Roest and Peter Steigrad are also on trial; director Gary Urwin and chairman Bruce Davidson have already pleaded guilty to the charges.

The Crown alleges Roest and Petricevic knew about missed payments to investors, starting from February 2007, but signed off on promotional material falsely claiming the company had never missed a payment.

However, Petricevic has maintained he didn't know about missed payments and only found out about them when he read a newspaper after tha company went into receivership.

Roest began giving evidence on Friday.

ANZ planning bond issue

ANZ New Zealand says it is planning to issue seven-year retail bonds with a minimum interest rate.

Details of planned issue, such the size of the issue and the minimum interest rate, will be made close to the launch of the offer, which is expected to be by the end of this month.

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