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Fraudster admits Ponzi-scheme charges

Thursday 01 Mar 2012 2:51p.m.

Fraudster admits Ponzi-scheme charges

A former company director who falsified documents and used fraudulently obtained money to pay for pasting, international air travel and designer clothing has pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

Former Datasouth Group director Gavin Clifford Bennett, 53, pleaded guilty to six charges, laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), on Thursday.

In one their largest investigations, the SFO uncovered a $103 million fraud involving a Ponzi-style scheme.

The charges against Bennett were laid in relation to about 900 separate incidents of dishonestly using a document and false accounting.

The SFO alleged that between April 2005 and March 2011, Bennett created false documents to fraudulently obtain about $65m from South Canterbury Finance.

The resulting financial loss to South Canterbury Finance was about $23m.

It was also alleged Bennett falsified entries in financial statements to the tune of $38m.

Bennett used the funds to repay earlier false lease agreements in a Ponzi-style scheme.

Some of the funds were also used to pay personal expenses, including rental for two luxury apartments in Sydney, regular payments to various female companions, international air travel, jewellery and flowers, and clothing and apparel from Chanel, Victoria's Secret, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, among others.

Datasouth Group offered IT services, including consultancy and the lease of IT equipment, to businesses in Christchurch.

The company's collapse in March 2011 caused widespread losses and all 31 staff were left unemployed.

Bennett was remanded in custody for sentencing on May 3.


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