Forex broker Russell Maher pleads guilty to fraud

Published

A foreign exchange broker who used forged documents to disguise his company’s financial status has pleaded guilty to fraud.

Russell Maher (52) pleaded guilty today at the Auckland District Court to 47 charges of ‘Using forged documents’ brought by the Serious Fraud Office. The charges relate to Forex Brokers Limited (FBL), through which the defendant provided foreign exchange services.

Mr Maher provided clients with forged documents that deliberately misrepresented the status of the transactions he was meant to carry out. He used forged documents to disguise that FBL was in financial difficulty.

The Acting Director of the SFO, Rajesh Chhana, said, “Mr Maher risked client funds and New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to do business through his arrogant and, ultimately, criminal actions. He used his clients’ money to maintain the façade of a successful business. Significant losses to client funds could have been avoided if Mr Maher had behaved honestly and accepted that his business had failed.” 

Mr Maher was remanded on bail for sentencing on 30 September.

ENDS

Issued by

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background information

The defendant, Russell Angus Maher (52), operated a foreign exchange broking business from 1995 until 2017. Mr Maher provided foreign exchange services through Forex Broker Ltd (FBL). Mr Maher was the sole director and shares of the company were held by him and his wife.

Car yards and other importers used FBL’s services. FBL was placed in liquidation in April 2017 and Mr Maher was declared bankrupt in November 2018.

Crimes Act offences

257 Using forged documents

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, knowing a document to be forged,—

(a) uses the document to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or

(b) uses, deals with, or acts upon the document as if it were genuine; or

(c) causes any other person to use, deal with, or act upon it as if it were genuine.

(2) For the purposes of this section, a document made or altered outside New Zealand in a manner that would have amounted to forgery if the making or alteration had been done in New Zealand is to be regarded as a forged document.

About the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.

The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.

The presence of an agency dedicated to white-collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.

This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.

The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part 1 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 2 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…”

In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:

  • the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
  • the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
  • the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
  • any relevant public interest considerations.

The SFO’s Annual Report 2018 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz.

The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ