Former Reeves Moses mortgage manager awaits verdict
Former Reeves Moses mortgage manager Peter Van Nieuwkoop told Auckland District Court judge Barry Morris this week he’d done wrong, but sought to lay the blame with the finance group’s directors at the time.
Mr Van Nieuwkoop was on trial before Judge Morris, sitting alone, for 7 days on charges alleging Securities Act regulation breaches.
The case started with 36 charges, one of which was dropped, and a number of them in the alternative. The charges relate to loans to developers of 4 projects and consequent breaches of the Securities Act (Contributory Mortgage) Regulations when Mr Van Nieuwkoop was mortgage manager of Reeves Moses Hudig Mortgage Brokers Ltd.
At the end of the trial on Tuesday, Judge Morris adjourned the hearing to Friday March 22 at 2.15pm to deliver his verdict.
Directors tried & acquitted last August
Mr Van Nieuwkoop followed 2 Reeves Moses directors into court on the same charges, but was charged from a different perspective.
He is alleged to have altered documents and made changes, such as to the interest prepayments, without authorisation. The 70 charges against the directors, Roger Moses & Gary Stevens, were based on their responsibility to know what was in the documents.
In essence, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey had to prove Mr Van Nieuwkoop was a principal officer at the company and was party to the offences, not just someone doing his job at the call of the directors without any responsibility. If the judge establishes those points, he can then consider Mr Van Nieuwkoop’s role in Securities Act breaches.
Failure on the first 2 points in particular, but also the third, would make a civil claim lodged against Mr Van Nieuwkoop by the directors more difficult to establish.
Mr Moses & Mr Stevens faced trial last August. Judge John Hole dismissed all 70 charges against the two men, but Mr Dickey indicated then that the Crown would appeal to get certainty on certain aspects of securities law for regulatory authorities & the industry.
That appeal is scheduled for hearing in the Auckland High Court on 26 April.
Van Nieuwkoop says he knows now what he did was wrong
Towards the end of the Van Nieuwkoop trial, Mr Van Nieuwkoop acknowledged in evidence on one of the loans that, “in hindsight, I realise I was wrong and I can’t undo that, even if I wanted to.”
Judge Morris took from this that the way Mr Van Nieuwkoop dealt with contributory mortgages and loans to developers was supposed to have happened that way, though the Crown said the frequent failure to document transactions properly, and failure to inform investors as required, meant there were numerous breaches of the securities regulations.
“Yeah, I made a lot of decisions I shouldn’t have made, micro decisions,” Mr Van Nieuwkoop said. “Macro, I wasn’t given the help needed when I asked.”
Said the judge: “I’ve got the lyrics and the melody of that real clear.”
Mr Van Nieuwkoop continued: “At the end of the day I was the scapegoat here. And I believe I made those decisions in a state of mind where I wasn’t capable of making those decisions, OK.”
On one aspect where he was dealing with a lawyer at Kensington Swan (now part of KPMG Legal), Mr Van Nieuwkoop said: “I was so over-worked, OK. I didn’t pick it up [the words “land value free of encumbrances”]. I didn’t realise those words had to be thereâ€¦
“Basically I didn’t have the opportunity, didn’t have the time, didn’t have the energy. I was only looking for the valuation in terms of 2 & 15 [2 clauses which he’d highlighted as the most important to establish were correct in the documentation].”
Mr Van Nieuwkoop said he was giving evidence “to allow the court to understand I thought I was doing the right thing. I didn’t go to any training coursesâ€¦ Looking back on it now, I would have made Kensington Swan certify every document.”
The Reeves Moses organisation has undergone considerable change since the events under the trial spotlight occurred in the 2 years before the 1999 sale to Sovereign Ltd. Sovereign was taken over by ASB Ltd soon after, Reeves Moses was sold to Brisbane-based accountancy firm Harts, and last October sold again to Dorchester Pacific, which this week changed the name to Sterling.
Mr Moses & Mr Stevens have set up a new business, Moses Stevens & Associates Ltd. Mr Van Nieuwkoop, with other partners, set up Contributory Mortgage Nominees Ltd, Contributory Mortgage Investments Ltd and RAM Investments Ltd in late 1999.
2 of the earlier stories: