New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced this Tuesday that Russell Maher of Forex Brokers Limited (FBL), a foreign exchange broker who is now in liquidation, has entered no plea to fraud charges brought by the agency.
The SFO has charged Maher with 47 counts of ‘Using forged documents.’ Today, Maher appeared at the Auckland District Court to face the charges, for which the maximum penalty for each charge is ten years of imprisonment.
Following his appearance in court, Maher was remanded on bail to reappear at the Auckland District Court on the 23rd of July, 2019.
According to the SFO, through the FX broker FBL, Maher provided forex services to residents of New Zealand. The agency alleges that he provided his customers with forged documents.
These documents “deliberately misrepresented the status of the transactions he was meant to carry out,” the statement from the agency said. In addition, the office believes that Maher used forged documents to disguise the fact that FBL was in financial difficulty.
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The defendant, Maher, who is 52 years old, operated FBL from 1995 until 2017. He is the sole director of the FX broker and shares of the company were held by himself and his wife, the statement said.
The New Zealand-based broker was placed in liquidation in April of 2017 and Maher was declared bankrupt in November 2018. Among FBL’s clients were car yards and other importers.
In New Zealand, the SFO is the leading law enforcement agency that investigates and prosecutes both serious or complex financial crime. This includes bribery and corruption.
“The presence of an agency dedicated to white-collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption,” the statement said.
SFO and FMA Work Alongside to Identify FX Scams
The SFO works alongside the Financial Markets Authority (FMA), the government agency responsible for financial regulation. Towards the end of May, the regulator announced that it has accused a man of soliciting funds from investors for an FX service which didn’t exist.
The New Zealand regulator has charged the man, who has not been named, with offenses under the Crimes Act and the FMA Act at the Manukau District Court. The watchdog alleges that he contacted people and convinced them to ‘invest’ by transferring money into bank accounts he controlled.