15 Mar 2018

Former finance director's bid for legal funds rejected

3:01 pm on 15 March 2018

The director of a collapsed finance company has failed in his bid to get $1.3 million from the Crown to fund the next stage of his defence.

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Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

However, the Financial Markets Authority has been ordered to pay Mr Bublitz $10,000 for delays in his trial.

Paul Bublitz faced 13 charges over two collapsed financial companies but his first trial was aborted after it ballooned from 12 weeks to nine months because of Crown delays.

At a hearing last month, he sought $1.3m in costs, saying it was the Crown's fault the trial had taken so long.

Without that money he would not be able to mount another defence of his choosing for his retrial, he had argued.

But in his decision, Justice Woolford said awarding more than $1m in costs was "completely outside" the intention of the law that covered the issue.

"If an inadvertent error on the part of the defence counsel, or one of the defendants, resulted in the trial being aborted, it would be unthinkable to suggest they should then compensate the Crown for its actual costs," he said.

Mr Bublitz did not have a right to the legal team of his choosing if he could not afford it and the legal aid system was in place to ensure a fair trial and right to defence, Justice Woolford said.

Mr Bublitz had approached a number of experienced lawyers but all had declined to act for him on legal aid, the decision said.

Justice Woolford did acknowledge that the prosecuting body, the Financial Markets Authority, should be censured for its failures, which lead to the trial delays.

He ordered the authority to pay $10,000 each to Mr Bublitz and his three co-defendants, and $10,000 to the Ministry of Justice.

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