27 Apr 2012

Bridgecorp director Petricevic jailed 6½ years

5:23 am on 27 April 2012

Former Bridgecorp head Rod Petricevic has been jailed for six-and-a-half years for misleading investors.

The 62-year-old former managing director was sentenced at the Auckland High Court after being found guilty on 5 April of 18 charges under the Crimes, Companies and Securities Act.

The finance company collapsed in 2007, owing 14,500 investors almost $490 million. It emerged in court on Thursday that figure includes $28.8 million in unsecured capital notes.

Justice Venning said Petricevic had misled new investors about how well the company was doing and lied to existing investors who asked where their missed payments were.

The judge said Petricevic maintained his innocence and did not show any genuine remorse. He told Petricevic that prison life would be tough for a man of his age.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey had pushed for a sentence of about eight years, saying the offending represented the pinnacle of market-related fraud because of the lies told to investors.

Petricevic's lawyer Charles Cato submitted that the jail term should be no longer than six years.

He said the Petricevic family had received a lot of scrutiny from the media and public, causing great distress, which was almost a form of punishment of its own.

Mr Cato said his client regretted the losses suffered by investors.

Significant penalty - prosecutor

The prosecutor says it is the longest sentence imposed in connection with the recent collapse of finance companies.

Brian Dickey told Checkpoint on Thursday the sentence is not far from that recommended by the Crown.

"We asked effectively for more - and not a lot more - but that's not to say we're at all disappointed. It's a very significant sentence - I hope it's seen as such, especially by investors."

Mr Dickey said Petricevic has shown little remorse for his crimes and has no insight into his wrongdoing.

Other sentencings to come

Directors Rob Roest and Peter Steigrad are awaiting sentencing on related matters while director Gary Urwin has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Former chairman Bruce Davidson received nine months' home detention.

The prosecution was led by the Financial Markets Authority.

Petricevic and Roest are also being prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office on charges the office says could incur a sentence of between seven and 10 years.