Supreme Court grants Lombard Four leave to appeal sentences, but not convictions

Oct. 25 (BusinessDesk) - The Supreme Court has granted the four former directors of failed lender Lombard Finance & Investments leave to appeal their sentences on issues of fact, but turned down the application to have their convictions overturned.

The country's top court today turned down an attempt by former Justice Ministers Doug Graham and Bill Jeffries, former PR man for the Queen Lawrie Bryant and Lombard's ex-boss Michael Reeves to appeal their convictions for signing off on false statements by omission in the finance company's prospectus, saying there was no appearance of a miscarriage of justice, and that the appeal didn't raise a point of law of general or public importance.

"The statutory criteria for the grant of leave to appeal in respect of conviction are accordingly not made out," the judgment said.

The bench was made up of Chief Justice Sian Elias and Justices William Young and Susan Glazebrook.

The court granted the men leave to appeal their sentences as to whether the Court of Appeal erred in allowing the Solicitor-General's appeals, in particular as to whether imprisonment was necessary.

The Lombard Four received harsher sentences earlier this year after the Crown appealed the non-custodial terms dished out by the High Court.

Jeffries was sentenced to eight months' home detention and 250 hours community work and Reeves was sentenced to nine months home detention and 250 hours community work, having both initially been sentenced to 400 hours community work.

Graham and Bryant were each sentenced to six months home detention and fines of $100,000 apiece. Graham had his sentence of community work reduced to 200 hours from 300 hours.

All four avoided jail time when sentenced in March last year, when Justice Robert Dobson said the offending was much less serious than that involving other failed finance companies, such as Bridgecorp. They had been found guilty of making untrue statements in investment documents and advertisements in late 2007 and early 2008 and the Crown had initially sought jail terms.

Some 4,400 Lombard Finance investors were owed $127 million at the time of the receivership in April 2008. The failed company's major asset was a property loan book of 27 loans with a book value of $136.8 million, mostly for bare land subdivisions or development properties. Of the 27, only nine were first ranking security.

(BusinessDesk)

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