High Court judge suggests redrafting for key regulation
Former Reeves Moses Mortgage Brokers Ltd mortgage manager Peter Van Nieuwkoop remains unsentenced on securities law charges because a High Court judgment on the fate of his former bosses had only just been released.
Mr Van Nieuwkoop was tried in February & March. Judge Barry Morris delivered a guilty verdict on 22 March, but didn’t enter convictions. Of the 36 original charges, 1 was repeated and an unstated number were in the alternative. When Judge Morris produced his verdict, the schedule of charges appended to his decision showed 34 charges.
Sentencing was scheduled for 14 May, on the expectation that the High Court would have decided the appeal by the Crown over some of the charges on which former Reeves Moses directors Roger Moses & Gary Stevens were acquitted. The new sentencing date is Monday 17 June at 10am.
Justice Mark O’Regan issued his High Court judgment on 8 May, on a case stated appeal brought by the Registrar of Companies (represented in the district court by Brian Dickey, and in the appeal by Kieran Raftery).
He upheld the ruling of District Court Judge John Hole to acquit the directors on charges laid under regulation 41 of the Securities Act (Contributory Mortgage) Regulations, but overturned Judge Hole’s acquittal on charges laid under section 59 of the Securities Act.
The directors were not involved in the day-to-day running of the contributory mortgage company loans. The essence of their trial was whether the securities law made them liable for the (criminal) actions of their staff when they had no knowledge of the alleged frauds being committed.
Judge Morris found Mr Van Nieuwkoop, as mortgage manager, was a principal officer of the company. He was alleged to have altered documents & made changes, such as to the interest prepayments, without authorisation. The 70 charges against the directors were based on their responsibility to know what was in the documents.
The Crown Law Office in Wellington is considering whether to appeal further, given the importance of these sections to the upholding of securities law. Justice O’Regan, on the other hand, suggested some redrafting:< "It may be that the outcome of this case will lead to some reconsideration of the ambit of regulation 41," he said.