Acacia Bay man faces 35 fraud charges after finance company collapse

Press Release: Serious Fraud Office
An Acacia Bay man, Hugh Edward Staples Hamilton (61) has appeared at the Auckland District Court today charged with fraud following the 2008 collapse of Belgrave Finance Limited. As a result of a joint prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA), Mr Hamilton is facing 19 Crimes Act charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, five charges of false statement by promoter, and 11 Companies Act charges of making a false statement to a trustee.

Mr Hamilton, a former barrister and solicitor, was a legal advisor to the other individuals charged in relation to Belgrave. He no longer holds a current practicing certificate.

Following the collapse of Belgrave in 2008, the FMA (then Securities Commission) made initial investigations into the company before referring the matter to the SFO in June 2010. As a result of the SFO investigation, in September 2011 the SFO and FMA commenced a joint prosecution.

The SFO initially laid 23 fraud charges against three people alleging that between June 2005 and March 2008 they used more than $18 million of Belgrave investors’ funds to make related party loans and in doing so they misrepresented to investors how their funds would be used.

The FMA laid an additional 23 charges under the Securities Act and Companies Act.

Acting Chief Executive of the SFO, Simon McArley explained that additional information resulted in further enquiries into Mr Hamilton’s involvement. The SFO and FMA now allege that Mr Hamilton is an accomplice to the substantive fraudulent representations and use of the Belgrave investors’ funds.

“We believe that it is important to explore the culpability of all involved with financial crime. Professional advisors are not exempt and where we believe they have been complicit in offending, we will seek to bring those individuals to account.” Simon McArley said.

FMA Head of Enforcement, Belinda Moffat, said it is alleged that Mr Hamilton was a party to the conduct of the Belgrave directors particularly with respect to related party lending and statements made to the trustee.

“This case highlights the importance of the role that professional advisers have to ensure that Trustees of issuers are provided with accurate information,” Ms Moffat said.

On 30 August 2012, Shane Joseph Buckley (44) a former Belgrave Director was sentenced to three years imprisonment after pleading guilty for his role in defrauding the Belgrave investors. Mr Buckley was convicted on 19 charges of theft by person in a special relationship and four charges of false statement by a promoter laid under the Crimes Act by the SFO. Mr Buckley was also convicted on representative charges brought by the FMA under the Securities Act and the Companies Act.

Earlier this year, former Belgrave Finance Director, Stephen Charles Smith (43), and an associate, Raymond Tasman Schofield (49), were committed for trial on similar charges. The trial date is set for 29 April 2013.

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