A former financial advisor involved in a multi-million dollar fraud has been sentenced to more than seven years in jail.
Jacqueline Bradley was a director of B'On Financial Services, which took $14.4 million to pay for her family's "lavish" lifestyle and pay off other investors.
This is commonly known as a Ponzi scheme - where investors are paid from their own money or that of other investors rather than from a profit.
She had denied all 75 counts during the five-week trial in the Auckland District Court. She was sentenced today to seven years and five months in jail.
Bradley ran the failed finance company with her late husband Mike until it collapsed in December 2009 owing 28 investors $15.5 million.
B'On, which had offices in the sought-after Vero building offices in Auckland's Shortland Street, never advertised but expanded through word-of-mouth.
In 1988 Bradley published the investment book The Winning Woman under her maiden name O'Neill. The book was given to investors and was handed out at investment seminars the couple ran.
Jacqui Bradley was left to face the charges alone after her husband died in April 2011.The charges against her were brought under three separate Crimes Acts which each cite a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.
During the trial defence lawyer Ron Mansfield argued Bradley's husband had been the key to the business while she had a largely subordinate role and took care of administration.
Drawings taken from the business were business-related and covered legitimate expenses, he told the court. They were entitled to be paid, the court heard.
But Crown prosecutor Kristy McDonald QC contended the couple worked as a team and took investor funds for a purpose they had not authorised.
The couple ran a Ponzi-type scheme, the Crown said, to not only repay other investors but to also fund their "lavish" lifestyle. Evidence was given of investor funds being used to repay credit card debts, fund school fees, lease a Coromandel property as well as a BMW vehicle.
B'On sought funds from clients on the pretext of investing in various funds they had established both in New Zealand and offshore. Some had invested their life savings in the company.
The offending stretched over six years from April 2003 to November 2009, and Bradley's late husband, John, was also charged for the fraud.
"B'On investors based their investments on a degree of trust and affinity towards Mrs Bradley," Acting Chief Executive of the SFO, Simon McArley said.
"This is an unfortunate reminder of the danger of making investment decisions based on trust alone."