Advisor pleads guilty to $1.4M fraud

  • 31/03/2016

A financial advisor has pleaded guilty in Tauranga to misusing about $1.4 million of his clients' money.

Jonathan Graham West appeared in Tauranga District Court to face five charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office.

West pleaded guilty to all five charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, for his conduct as a director of The Investment Centre Ltd and Matrix Futures Ltd, which he operated between 1994 and 2013.

Although his clients initially saw satisfactory returns from sound business practices, by 2008 West began using clients' funds on their behalf but outside the agreed terms, the SFO says.

He also used client money for his own purposes.

SFO director Julie Read said West's abuse of trust had caused significant harm to his clients, who relied 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 be sentenced in May.