Third accused in CBL fraud case has separate trial ordered to firm’s former CEO and CFO

A third person charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after the collapse of insurance company CBL will have his own trial next year, separate from the firm’s former chief executive and head financial officer.

The man, who has interim name suppression, stood before Justice Sally Fitzgerald this morning in the High Court at Auckland.

In what was a brief hearing, the judge allocated him a one-week trial in June next year and on request by his lawyer, John Billington QC, remanded the businessman at large without plea.

The accused, who the SFO charged with a single count of obtaining by deception in March, will also have a hearing to determine if he shall remain anonymous later this month.

CBL’s former chief executive Peter Harris and ex-chief financial officer Carden Mulholland have already been facing criminal charges for more than a year.

Both men were charged by the SFO in December 2019 after an investigation began in June 2018, following CBL’s collapse in February that year. When the NZX-listed insurance firm folded, it had a market value of $747 million.

Harris, 66, faces five charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, two of obtaining by deception, and false accounting.

The former managing director of CBL Insurance and CBL Corporation said after he was charged: “I welcome the opportunity to finally bring the wider picture of the CBL saga before the court.”

Mulholland, 49, is charged with theft by a person in a special relationship, obtaining by deception and false accounting.

Both men have denied all the allegations against them and are on bail ahead of a scheduled trial in September this year.

A group of civil proceedings are also running concurrently to the criminal case, including two class actions by CBL’s shareholders.

Both CBL Corporation and CBL Insurance were placed into liquidation by the High Court in 2018.

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