Financial adviser Jonathan Graham West has pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court today to fraud charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office.
West faced five Crimes Act charges of theft by person in a special relationship for his conduct as a director of The Investment Centre Limited and Matrix Futures Limited, which he operated between 1994 and 2013. He pleaded guilty to all five charges.
The offending by West affected multiple Waikato/Bay of Plenty victims and amounts to approximately $1.4 million.
West offered financial planning advice, implementation of investment strategies and ongoing reporting on investments. Initially his clients saw satisfactory returns from sound business practices. However, between 2008 and 2013 West then began using clients’ funds on their behalf but outside the agreed terms or using his clients’ money for his own purposes.
SFO director Julie Read
said, “Mr West's abuse of trust has caused significant harm to his clients who were relying on his expertise and honesty. While we welcome Mr West's early plea of guilty, his conduct will nonetheless lead to pessimism amongst investors and has the potential to damage New Zealand's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business.”
West will reappear for sentencing in the Tauranga District Court on 12 May 2016.