Multi-million fraud accused ask for stay

3:18 pm on 11 September 2017

Three men who were charged over the collapse of two finance companies, owing investors $17 million, are arguing they should be granted a stay in the High Court in Auckland.

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The trial originally ran for nine months before being aborted. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) bought charges over the collapse of Viaduct Capital Ltd and Mutual Finance Ltd.

Their trial, which was set down for 12 weeks, ran for nine months before it was aborted in May due to breaches of the Criminal Disclosure Act.

One of those charged, Lance Morrison, has been granted a stay, and the other three men, Paul Bublitz, Richard Blackwood and Bruce McKay, are now arguing for one.

Rachael Reed, counsel for Mr Bublitz, opened submissions this morning by comparing the aborted trial to that of South Canterbury Finance.

She said South Canterbury Finance's trial lasted 71 days, and only concerned 12 charges against the lead defendant for losses that were 100 times greater than this case.

The Crown originally bought 49 charges against Mr Bublitz but as the trial went on, that was whittled down to 13.

Ms Reed said the Crown's case was unfocused and widespread and if a stay was not granted a retrial of the same nature was risked.

"If the retrial goes ahead the Crown wants to increase the number of charges to 19. The Crown has not taken the opportunity to refocus its case, but instead has added more charges.

"Like the judge said when he aborted the trial, it was extraordinary and rare and [had] difficulties from the beginning. A retrial will be beset with all of the same issues and could take even longer," she said.

Ms Reed said Mr Bublitz was away from his work and family for nine months during the trial and to go through that again should not be asked of any person.

"This whole deal has impacted on his family and has had an extraordinary impact on his professional reputation, he has been under the guise of these allegations for seven years."

She said Mr Bublitz spent $1.6 million on the trial, which is believed to be New Zealand's longest running criminal trial.

Court proceedings are set down for three days before Justice Lang - the crown will make its submissions this afternoon.