MIDDAY UPDATE: Capital + Merchant judge unmoved by appeal

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 14 (BusinessDesk) - The Serious Fraud Office has lost its first round in its appeal against the acquittals of Capital + Merchant Finance directors Neal Nicholls and Wayne Douglas.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Edwin Wylie turned down the Crown’s application for the judge to revisit three questions of law surrounding the Palmerston North property transactions involving some $14.4 million of investor funds, according to a judgment published today.

The Crown wanted Justice Wylie to review whether he had erred in his judgment in the first of two trials of the Capital + Merchant duo that cleared them of wrongdoing in those transactions, which the Crown would then use in its application to the Court of Appeal.

The pair were convicted and jailed in a second trial relating to different Capital + Merchant transactions, along with former chief executive Owen Tallentire.

FX trader and mortgage fraudsters jailed

The Serious Fraud Office has won jail-time for two separate prosecutions today, with mortgage fraudster Shane Wenzel facing three years imprisonment and forex trader Christopher Collecutt sentenced to two months and three weeks for their dishonesty.

Wenzel was found guilty in October in the Manukau District Court of using documents dishonestly from several property deals in South Auckland.

Collecutt pleaded guilty in August in The Auckland District Court for his deception of some 59 investors, mostly friends and family, who lost $1.5 million.

IAG sells loss-making British units

Insurance Australia Group, whose ASX-listed shares have surged 63 percent this year, is selling its unprofitable UK operations, taking a loss of about $240 million on them in the 2013 year.

The Sydney-based insurer, which runs the NZI, State and AMI insurance bands in New Zealand, will sell its Equity Red Star motor insurance business in the UK to buyout firm Aquiline Capital Partners for 87 million pounds. The sale will settle in the second half of this financial year, with IAG agreeing to retain existing pension fund liabilities.



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