Media agency director found guilty of fraud

Published

Media agency director found guilty of fraud

Glenda Mary Wynyard (49) has been found guilty in the Auckland District Court today of 11 out of 13 Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The former director and owner of The Media Counsel (TMC), a media placement agency, had been on trial for five weeks. She faced two charges of causing loss by deception, seven charges of theft by person in a special relationship and four charges of dishonestly using a document in relation to approximately $1.8 million of payments to media suppliers and client invoices.

Ms Wynyard was convicted of redirecting payments that were due to her accredited agency, Aegis, to repay a debt under an invoice factoring facility. Ms Wynyard was also convicted of presenting cheques she knew would not be honored and for providing false and misleading information to the Print Media Accreditation Authority in order to gain accreditation.

Ms Wynyard was acquitted on one count of causing loss by deception and one count of theft by person in a special relationship.

SFO Director, Julie Read said, “New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business supports all businesses in New Zealand.  This case demonstrates the importance of transparency and integrity when conducting business, especially in hard times where these boundaries can become blurred.”

Ms Wynyard will reappear for sentencing on 24 April.

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

The Media Counsel (TMC) was incorporated on 14 December 2005 and went into liquidation on 22 April 2010.

TMC was a media placement agency that provided services in media planning, media buying, public relations, consumer insights and event management. Prior to its liquidation, TMC employed approximately 24 staff.

In late 2008, TMC entered into an invoice financing agreement with Marac Finance (Marac). This agreement enabled TMC to obtain advances from Marac. In November 2009, after losing its own accreditation, TMC entered into an agreement with Aegis Media New Zealand Limited (Aegis) to provide media buying services as TMC’s accredited agency.

In February 2011, Ms Wynyard left New Zealand to live in Australia. Ms Wynyard returned from Australia to face the SFO charges in 2013. 

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.

Section 220 Theft by person in special relationship
(1) This section applies to any person who has received or is in possession of, or has control over, any property on terms or in circumstances that the person knows require the person—
(a) to account to any other person for the property, or for any proceeds arising from the property; or
(b) to deal with the property, or any proceeds arising from the property, in accordance with the requirements of any other person.

(2) Every one to whom subsection (1) applies commits theft who intentionally fails to account to the other person as so required or intentionally deals with the property, or any proceeds of the property, otherwise than in accordance with those requirements.

(3) This section applies whether or not the person was required to deliver over the identical property received or in the person's possession or control.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1), it is a question of law whether the circumstances required any person to account or to act in accordance with any requirements. 

Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception
(1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,—
(a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or
(b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or
(c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or
(d) causes loss to any other person.

(2) In this section, deception means—
(a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—
  (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or
  (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or
(b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or
(c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.

About 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's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. The SFO's focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:

  • business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
  • public confidence in our justice system and public service
  • New Zealand's international business reputation.

The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.

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 2014 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