The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has officially laid charges against former Datasouth managing director, Gavin Bennett. The SFO alleges that Bennett orchestrated a $103 million fraud involving a Ponzi-style scheme and false accounting. The former MD now faces six representative charges under the Crimes Act, relating to approximately 900 separate incidents of alleged misuse of a document, along with two charges of false accounting. Bennett allegedly created false documents relating to a lease of IT equipment to fraudulently obtain funds from South Canterbury Finance totalling approximately $65 million, between April 2005 and March 2011.
He is also accused of falsifying entries in Datasouth Finance financial statements by an estimated $38 million in order to retain the ongoing finance facility. According to the SFO, he also used a large sum for his own personal benefit. Ultimately, the resulting financial loss to South Canterbury Finance was an estimated $26 million, the SFO says.
“The findings of our investigation allege a very sustained and large-scale fraud that not only had a very significant financial impact on South Canterbury Finance, but also, ultimately, on the staff of Datasouth,” says Adam Feeley, chief executive of the SFO.