24 Jun 2014

Bill will only target 'serious wrongdoing'

5:01 pm on 24 June 2014

A lawyer says a bill criminalising company directors for business failures will not affect directors who make honest mistakes.

Under the bill, which is expected to be passed on Tuesday night, directors could face jail sentences if they intentionally fail to act in the best interests of a company, or allow it to incur debts while insolvent.

Jessie Wilson of Bell Gully said the original bill was heavily criticised by business groups for penalising directors who make legitimate business errors.

He said the Government raised the criminal threshold to ensure that only serious wrongdoing would be punished.

Mr Wilson said the sanctions will apply to directors of all companies in New Zealand, regardless of size.

"The Government has achieved its objective of criminalising egregious breaches of director's duties, but without causing honest directors to be fearful that their conduct will be judged criminal with the benefit of hindsight."