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Five Star finance saga draws to a close with prison sentence for Neill Williams

Media Release
19 April 2013

Neill Williams has this afternoon been sentenced to three years and seven months’ imprisonment for his role in the collapse of the Five Star finance companies, more than two and a half years after he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Mr Williams pleaded guilty to three charges of making a false statement in a registered prospectus, one charge of making false or misleading statements in financial statements and 12 charges of offering securities to the public for subscription without the required offer documents.

Mr Williams was generally recognised as the founder of Five Star and was an integral part of all major strategic decisions.

However, due to his prior association with two other failed finance companies, he was not named as a director of Five Star and his name didn’t appear on any Five Star documents.

Five Star Consumer Finance and Five Star Finance owed $97 million to 2300 investors when they collapsed in 2007.

“Neill Williams’ offending was at the highest end of the spectrum, and his desire to fly under the radar to hide his real position from the investing public added a layer of deception,” said FMA Head of Enforcement Belinda Moffat.

“Investors have a right to know who is at the helm of the companies they trust their money to, and this judgment should act as a reminder of that,” said Ms Moffat.

Under the Securities Act, Neill Williams’ conviction means he is automatically banned from managing companies for five years.

Ends

Contact:

Tony Reid on 021 739 052 or tony.reid@fma.govt.nz

Background

In 2010, Five Star directors Marcus Macdonald and Nicholas Kirk were sentenced to one year and six months and one year and nine months respectively after pleading guilty to misleading investors.

Anthony Bowden, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to home detention.

All three men are banned from managing companies for five years.