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23 Mar 2018 8:29
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  •   Home > News > Law and Order

    Date set in second go at $3.6m prosecution

    A date has been set for a retrial in a case that collapsed after nine months in court and cost the financial markets watchdog nearly $3.6m to run.

    A date has been set for a second attempt at a fraud case that collapsed after nine months in court and has so far cost the financial markets watchdog nearly $3.6 million.

    Prosecutors have been given a July, 2018 retrial date for their case against Viaduct Capital and Mutual Finance executives Paul Bublitz, Bruce McKay and Richard Blackwood, brought by the Financial Markets Authority.

    The first trial against the group - who ran the companies that collapsed in 2010, owing investors more than $17m - kicked off last year and was expected to last 12 weeks.

    In May, nine months later, a mistrial was declared because prosecutors accidentally turned some documents over too late, breaching disclosure rules.

    On Wednesday, a fresh 22-week retrial date, before a judge alone, was set at an appearance in the High Court at Auckland.

    However, the complexity of the case means it could be pushed back, the court heard.

    Figures released under the Official Information Act show the prosecution cost the FMA $3.58m, including nearly 13,000 staff hours.

    The accused applied to have the case thrown out after the mistral, arguing undue delay made a fair trial unfeasible, but had their bid rejected.

    The three executives were initially accused of a combined 49 counts of theft by a person in special relationship, along with dozens of charges of making false statements.

    But as the trial went on, many of the charges were dropped.

    The Crown now expects to bring 32 charges to the retrial.

    Charges against a fourth accused, Lance Morrison, were dropped in June.

    A fifth accused, Peter Chevin, was sentenced to nine months' home detention after pleading guilty at the start of last year's trial.

    During that judge-alone trial, prosecutors said Strategic Finance founder Bublitz and Viaduct chief executive Nick Wevers - who died in 2014 - set up Viaduct in order to raise cash for their various struggling property developments.

    Bublitz' lawyers denied this, saying there was no conspiracy and the outcome was the product of proper commercial decisions in tough market conditions.


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