Disgraced Bridgecorp boss Rod Petricevic got a “modest reduction” to his jail-time as a warning against vigilante justice after disgruntled investors roughed him up in 2009.
In the High Court in Auckland yesterday, Justice Geoffrey Venning jailed Petricevic for 6 ½ years for his role in misleading investors and knowingly making false statements in offer documents. The judge started at 7 ½ years, but cut 10% from that sentence because it was his first instance of criminal offending at the age of 62 and because “imprisonment will be hard” at that stage of his life.
Judge Venning made a further cut to Petricevic’s jail-time over a 2009 assault where he was roughed up at Auckland’s Moreton’s Bar and Restaurant, and written threats and abuse both he and his family were subjected to.
“While I can understand the strong feelings that victims of your offending might feel, such actions cannot be condoned,” the judge said in his sentencing notes. “In New Zealand we have the rule of law, not the rule of the mob.” See Justice Venning's full sentencing notes here.
Earlier this month Petricevic was found guilty on all 18 counts of breaching the Securities Act, Crimes Act and Companies Act, and was held in custody. The Crimes Act charges carried a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
Petricevic was in a “quite different position to (chairman Bruce) Davidson and (Gary) Urwin, and for that matter (Peter) Steigrad” in that none of them faced charges under the Crimes or Companies Act, the judge said.
Had he only faced charges under the Securities Act, Petricevic would have faced a starting point of 4 ½ years jail out of a maximum sentence of five years. Urwin, who pleaded guilty to 10 breaches of the Securities Act, was sentenced to two years in jail, and has indicated he will appeal the sentence.
Davidson, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced last year to home detention, community service and paid $500,000 in reparation.
Judge Venning accepted “you did not set out to cause any of the investors harm, but you did deliberately make false statements with the intention of inducing people to invest in Bridgecorp at a time when you knew the company was in serious financial trouble.”
“You knew how bad the situation was because you put our own money in it to prop the company from time to time,” he said.
The judge said Petricevic’s offending affected investors “not only financially but emotionally” and that he showed no “true remorse.”
“You may be sorry the investors lost their money, but that is not true remorse,” he said. “You do not accept responsibility for those losses. You still apparently do not consider you did anything wrong.”
Bridgecorp collapsed in 2007, owing about 14,500 investors some $459 million.