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Fiji Time: 11:38 PM on Wednesday 23 April

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Bridgecorp trial nears end

Nz Herald
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

BRIDGECORP director Peter Steigrad was more entitled to rely on the failed finance company's management than his co-accused, his lawyer says.

Steigrad - along with fellow directors Rod Petricevic and Rob Roest รน is on trial in Auckland for allegedly misleading investors in Bridgecorp offer documents.

Roest and Petricevic are also both accused of knowingly making false statements in offer documents that Bridgecorp never missed payments of interest or principal to investors.

The Crown says Bridgecorp began missing payments nearly five months before it collapsed in July 2007, owing 14,500 investors $665.9million ($459m). In what is expected to be the final day of a trial that started in October, Steigrad's lawyer, Brian Keane QC, is giving closing submissions in his client's defence.

Along with attempting to pick apart the reliability of Crown witnesses, Keane said Steigrad had a right to rely on information from Bridgecorp's management.

"As a non-executive director and as an independent director he must on necessity have a greater reliance on management and information provided by management and his focus should be on governance," Keane said.

Steigrad's "right to point to reliance" is stronger than that of Petricevic and Roest, who were executive directors, he said.

Keane said "critical information", such as the failure of the company to meet payments to investors, was withheld from his client.

"He did not know of the February 7 failure to make payments, he did not know of the March 30 failure to make payments.

Justice Geoffrey Venning has indicated he will give his verdict on April 5.

p Bridgecorp is said to have lost $154m (NZ$106m) in the Momi Bay Development Resort. The Fiji National Provident Fund is also a financier of the project and has been working to rehabilitate the project.