Former Bridgecorp chief financial officer Rob Roest suggested the losses to investors were not as severe or widespread and directors were acting in the company’s best interest by not putting it into receivership, when he appeared before the Court of Appeal in Wellington.
Roest was representing himself in his appeal hearing today, and is appealing his High Court conviction and sentence for making untrue statements in the failed finance company’s offer documents.
He argued mitigating factors in his case were that the government should have moved to stabilise the industry earlier, fewer people were affected by the collapse than stated and less money was lost as some received payments. It also wasn’t’ the fault of directors that receivers didn’t return as much as expected from the collapse, more money would have been lost if directors chose to put the company into receivership, and the directors had no control over the global financial crisis that hurt finance companies.
“You can’t transfer blame, you have got to face up to this,” Court of Appeal president Justice Mark O’Regan said. “You can’t offload your responsibility on to other people and you shouldn’t try to do that.”
Today’s hearing was held at Wellington’s High Court because there are no holding cells at the nearby Appeal Court. Roest was last year jailed for six and a half years after being found guilty of all charges following a four-month High Court case brought by the Financial Markets Authority.
Bridgecorp collapsed in 2007 owing $459 million to 14,500 investors. Bridgecorp’s former managing director Rod Petricevic received the same sentence for his role in misleading investors and knowingly making false statements while directors Gary Urwin and Bruce Davidson received lesser sentences.
Justice O’Regan on several occasions told Roest he should stick within the bounds of the case and focus on the Crimes Act charges that he faced.
“The issue before the court is, ‘was the prospectus misleading and how much did you know?'”
The case continues and is set down for two days before three Appeal Court justices.