20 Mar 2012

Bridgecorp accused 'left in dark by management'

6:00 pm on 20 March 2012

The lawyer for a former director of failed finance company Bridgecorp says his client was left in dark about the company's financial woes.

Former directors Rod Petricevic, Rob Roest and Peter Steigrad are facing criminal charges following Bridgecorp's collapse in 2007, owing more than $450 million.

The Crown says the directors knew that the company was failing but released documents suggesting otherwise.

Defence lawyers finished their closing addresses in the Auckland High Court on Tuesday. Summing up for Mr Steigrad, Brian Keene said his client did not have critical information when he signed off a prospectus the Crown claims misled investors.

He said Bridgecorp management did not tell Mr Steigrad of the company's alleged failure to make payments or that there was not enough money.

Mr Keene emphasised that Mr Steigrad had a greater right to rely on management than his co-accused, as he was a non-executive director with no interest in Bridgecorp's day-to-day business.

The defence also called in to doubt the Crown's evidence.

Mr Keene said the prosecution's case made assumptions that failed to consider the lack of information available to the directors when they were signing off the prospectus just months before the company collapsed.

He also highlighted events during the trial that he claims show the Crown's key witnesses as unreliable.