SFO lays charges against MediaWeb director Victor John Clarke involving $2.2 mln

The Serious Fraud Office has laid Crimes Act charges against Victor John Clarke, a former director of failed media company MediaWeb, in the Auckland District Court for alleged offending involving $2.2 million.

The two false accounting charges including using a forged document and obtaining by deception in his role as overseeing the accounting and financial aspects of the failed business. The business magazine publisher, started by Clarke and Toni Myers, produced a number of industry-related titles including NZ Management Magazine. Its main revenue source was an annual event celebrating the country’s top 200 businesses.

The SFO alleges the 66-year-old falsified financial statements to present a positive picture of MediaWeb’s financial position, created fictitious entries into the company’s accounting system to obtain money from a lending institution, forged emails, and failed to disclose the true financial position of the company to obtain funding from a trust.

MediaWeb was placed into receivership on March 5, 2014, and then into liquidation on March 21, owing creditors more than $2 million.

Clarke will next appear in court on Oct. 6.

McDonald Vague was appointed receiver and is understood to have found several anomalies when analysing the financial records of the company. The case was then handed over to the Serious Fraud Office.

SFO director Julie Read said financial crime can have an impact on the cost of doing business for the whole community as well as causing harm to the lives and prosperity of those who are the victims of crime.

Clarke and Myers were both adjudicated bankrupt on Oct. 24, 2014.

The latest liquidators report in May 2015 from Blacklock Rose liquidator Garry Whimp said two secured creditors – understood to be Heartland Bank and Trade Publication Ltd, are owed $1.449 million. The IRD has put in a claim for $287,190, while the company owes wages and holiday pay of $18,125. Claims from a further 24 unsecured creditors have been received totalling $625,631.

The liquidator is pursuing the recovery of voidable transactions against numerous creditors for varying amounts, including taking legal action. Investigations are also underway in respect to all business related activities leading to its appointment, the liquidator said. It was too early to say whether there would be a distribution to creditors.


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