SFO investigation results in early guilty plea

16 January 2013

SFO investigation results in early guilty plea

Glenn William Cooper (39) plead guilty in the Manukau District Court today to charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) late last year.

Mr Cooper was facing five charges of dishonestly using a document following an SFO investigation into the property developer's activities. This investigation focussed on five property transactions over the period July 2011 to September 2011.

Mr Cooper purchased properties at mortgagee sale (using one of the companies he was involved in, or via associates) and then onsold these properties to investors who were under pressure to consolidate debt. All of the transactions that are the subject of the charges involve members of one family. False Sale & Purchase Agreements (concealing his interest in the properties from the banks and investors) and misleading Loan Application Forms were prepared by Mr Cooper and submitted to the banks. The quantum of the offending is approximately $800,000.

Acting Chief Executive for the SFO, Simon McArley describes the case as an example of preying on investors who needed budgeting advice and realistic solutions rather than a scenario of further debt.

"The investors were sold on a fantasy that purchasing these investment properties would successfully consolidate debt and solve their problems. Mr Cooper played on the affinity he had built with one family in particular. This has only added to their financial strife. Investors need to remain aware of their vulnerability in such situations," he said.

Mr Cooper is remanded on bail and will be sentenced on 8 March 2013.

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

Glenn William Cooper is a property investor. He is also involved with putting together property deals and acting as a broker.

A complaint was made to the Serious Fraud Office regarding Mr Cooper in 2010, however the Director decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge, and the file was closed on 30 June 2011.

In October 2011 the SFO received further complaints regarding Mr Cooper. These complaints alleged a different method of offending from that previously investigated and a new investigation was commenced on 31 October 2011.

Crimes Act offences

Section 228 Dishonestly taking or using document
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,-
(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

Role of the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (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 operates three investigative teams:

• Evaluation & Intelligence;
• Financial Markets & Corporate Fraud; and
• Fraud & Corruption.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part I 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 II 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..."

The SFO's Annual Report 2012 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2012-2015 sets out the SFO's three year strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz