Russell Maher, the sole director of Forex Brokers Limited (FBL), has pleaded guilty at the Auckland District Court this Tuesday to 47 charges of ‘Using forged documents,’ which was brought by New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
Through FBL, 52-year-old Russell Maher provided foreign exchange services. From the company, he reportedly managed to steal millions of dollars from his clients. The SFO alleges some $3 million was lost. Maher, on the other hand, argues it was less than $1 million.
According to the SFO, he forged documents to disguise the fact that the company was in financial difficulty and deliberately misrepresented the status of transactions. The maximum penalty for each charge is ten years of imprisonment.
Maher 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. As Finance Magnates previously reported, he originally entered a no plea against the fraud charges back in June.
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SFO: Russell Maher was arrogant
Commenting on the case, the Acting Director of the SFO, Rajesh Chhana, said: “Mr Maher risked client funds and New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to do business through his arrogant and, ultimately, criminal actions.”
“He used his clients’ money to maintain the façade of a successful business. Significant losses to client funds could have been avoided if Mr Maher had behaved honestly and accepted that his business had failed.”
Maher was remanded on bail for sentencing on the 30th of September, 2019. 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.
The SFO works alongside the Financial Markets Authority (FMA), the government agency responsible for financial regulation. The agency was established to investigate and prosecute serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.