18 Jun 2014

Charges watered down - SCF defence

10:19 pm on 18 June 2014

The High Court in Timaru has been told that charges against three South Canterbury Finance managers have been watered down over the course of the trial.

On Wednesday, the defence began its case in the trial of the company's former chief executive Lachie McLeod and former directors Edward Sullivan and Robert White who face 18 fraud charges.

Mr Sullivan's lawyer Pip Hall, QC, told the court that the Crown started out saying the accused falsely gained access to the scheme, but now is only accusing them of ensuring their company gained access early.

"Implicit in that significant shift in its case, is that the Crown can no longer claim, in the defence submission, let alone prove that premature entry, your Honour, into the scheme cost the taxpayer anything."

Mr Hall said that at the time of its collapse, South Canterbury Finance was the biggest finance company in New Zealand and the global financial crisis meant that many of its borrowers were unable to repay loans.

Mr Hall said there has been no evidence presented to the court that the defendants have failed to account for any of the money invested in the company.

Almost half of the $1.5 billion paid out has been recovered, he said.

From left: Edward Sullivan, Robert White and Lachie McLeod.

From left: Edward Sullivan, Robert White and Lachie McLeod. Photo: Mytchall Bransgrove