A director of Christchurch clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin Industries, a one-time thriving local business, has been hit with a total of 82 charges from the Serious Fraud Office.
LWR director Kenneth James Anderson, 64, is facing 61 charges under the Crimes Act over allegations he fabricated financial documents to borrow NZ$118 from Westpac New Zealand Limited.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which made public the news today, said Anderson also faces 21 additional charges related to the use of "fabricated documentation to obtains funds under a letter of credit facility provided by Westpac.''
Another individual, whose identity is protected by a court suppression order, is facing eight charges in relation to the same offense.
SFO Acting Director, Simon McArley, said the alleged fraud has "had a profound effect on the region, with LWR having employed many staff and enjoyed an international reputation.''
“While its demise is unfortunate for the Canterbury people, upholding the integrity and credibility of New Zealand businesses is essential for our future success.”
LWR was placed into receivership in April 2009. At its height, LWR employed 470 staff.
At the time of the receivership Prime Minister John Key, who had a job at LWR in his youth, publicly questioned whether the recession was behind the textile company's demise. (See Otago Daily Times May 15, 2009 article).
The SFO commenced its investigation into LWR in September 2009 after its company’s receivers BDO Spicers signaled concerns.
McArley said that, although the investigation had experienced a number of delays due to the Canterbury earthquakes, the scale of losses and high level of public interest demanded perseverance with the case.
LWR traces its history back to the production of men's socks and cardigans from the homes of Alfred and Sarah Rudkin in the 1880s. John Lane and Pringle Walker formed a partnership to operate a small woolen mill and began supplying the Rudkins. In 1904 the two firms merged. From 1910 to 1920 LWR began making swimsuits, uniforms for the army during World War I, supplying New Zealand rugby teams and producing underwear and lingerie.
During World War II it provided uniforms for the military forces. From the early years through to the 2000s LWR provided gear for the All Blacks, America's Cup yachting crews and New Zealand athletes including John Walker when he won the 1976 Olympic games 1500 metre gold medal in Montreal.