By Paul McBeth
Dec. 20 (BusinessDesk) - The Court of Appeal has upheld the guilty convictions and jail terms for Capital + Merchant Finance directors Owen Tallentire, Neal Nicholls and Wayne Douglas.
Justices Terence Arnold, Rhys Harrison and Lynton Stevens dismissed the appeal against their conviction for theft by a person in a special relationship and upheld the seven-and-a-half year prison terms handed down to Nicholls and Douglas and the five-year sentence to Tallentire, according to a judgment made in the Court of Appeal today.
"Simply put, this is theft on a grand scale," the judgment said.
The appeals were against Justice Edwin Wylie's interpretation of the intention element relating to the crime, and that the sentences imposed were "manifestly excessive."
The judges turned down the appeal, saying the judge didn't err on the convictions, and that "taken as a whole, the reasons for verdict amply demonstrate that the intention element was proved beyond reasonable doubt."
The appeal court judges also upheld the sentences, saying the offending was "in many respects commercially breathtaking."
"Offending of this nature has long-lasting impacts on investor confidence, which in turn has damaging effects for the economy as a whole," they said.
Justice Wylie gave generous discounts for the mitigating factors and imprisonment was entirely appropriate, the appeal court judges said.
"A sentence of home detention plus community work was by any measure out of the question," the judgment said.
The Capital + Merchant fraud case was broken up into two trials, with the first part dealing with so-called 'Hub' property deals in Palmerston North, of which the three were acquitted. The trio were convicted in relation to the second part of the case relating to $28 million of related party transactions between 2004 and 2006.
The Serious Fraud Office is appealing the acquittals in the 'Hub' transactions.