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Fraud affected multiple Waikato/Bay of Plenty victims
Jonathan Graham West has pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court today to fraud charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office.
Mr West faced five Crimes Act charges of theft by person in a special relationship for his conduct as a director of The Investment Centre Limited and Matrix Futures Limited, which he operated between 1994 and 2013. He pleaded guilty to all five charges.
Mr West offered financial planning advice, implementation of investment strategies and ongoing reporting on investments. His clients were situated mainly in the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty and initially these clients saw satisfactory returns from sound business practices. However, between 2008 and 2013 Mr West then began using clients' funds on their behalf but outside the agreed terms or using his clients' money for his own purposes.
The offending by Mr West amounts to approximately $1.4 million.
SFO Director, Julie Read said, "Mr West's abuse of trust has caused significant harm to his clients who were relying on his expertise and honesty. While we welcome Mr West's early plea of guilty, his conduct will nonetheless lead to pessimism amongst investors and has the potential to damage New Zealand's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business."
Mr West will reappear for sentencing in the Tauranga District Court on 12 May 2016.
For further media information
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550
Background to investigation
Jonathan West was previously employed in the banking industry before he set up set up The Investment Centre Limited and began offering financial advice. He was a registered financial service provider between 2011 and 2012.
Crimes Act offences
Section 220 Theft by person in special relationship
(1) This section applies to any person who has received or is in possession of, or has control over, any property on terms or in circumstances that the person knows require the person-
(a) to account to any other person for the property, or for any proceeds arising from the property; or
(b) to deal with the property, or any proceeds arising from the property, in accordance with the requirements of any other person.
(2) Every one to whom subsection (1) applies commits theft who intentionally fails to account to the other person as so required or intentionally deals with the property, or any proceeds of the property, otherwise than in accordance with those requirements.
(3) This section applies whether or not the person was required to deliver over the identical property received or in the person's possession or control.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (1), it is a question of law whether the circumstances required any person to account or to act in accordance with any requirements.
About the SFO
The SFO was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.
The SFO's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. The SFO's focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:
• business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
• public confidence in our justice system and public service
• New Zealand's international business reputation.
The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.
The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.
Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director "has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud."
Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: "...the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed..."
In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:
• the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
• the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
• the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
• any relevant public interest considerations.
The SFO's Annual Report 2015 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO's strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz
Source: Serious Fraud Office media release