MED Gives $1m of Taxpayer Money to Lawyers for Xmas

Published: Wed 22 Dec 2010 03:33 PM
Court Orders MED to Pay Substantial Costs to Feltex Directors
The District Court has today released the attached judgment awarding costs to the former directors of Feltex in relation to the unsuccessful prosecution brought by the Ministry of Economic Development. The Court has ordered that the Ministry pay the directors a total of $952,111:00. This amount is reimbursement for legal and other costs incurred by the directors in successfully defending the claim.
At paragraphs 26 and 44 of the judgment, Judge Jan Doogue held:
[26] I accept that the way the prosecution conducted the investigation fell below what was reasonably required. The prosecution failed to have proper regard to or draw the obvious conclusions from the information provided to it by the directors ... The prosecution failed to access and consider all relevant documents available to it from the Securities Commission, including documents disclosing serious errors by Ernst & Young in the conduct of its review engagement.
[44] I conclude, in summary, that the prosecution chose to proceed to put the directors on trial without giving fair and adequate consideration to the steps the directors took to ensure that the standard would be complied with and were probably under a misapprehension that the directors were not entitled to rely on advice and assistance from management and professional advisers. Had the prosecution given fair and adequate consideration to the steps the directors took with a proper appreciation of the legal position the prosecution may well have not proceeded.
Tim Saunders, the former Chairman of Feltex, said: “The Court’s earlier decision confirmed that we acted honestly and carefully at all times and were not guilty of the charges alleged by the Ministry. This further judgment now confirms that those charges should never have been brought, and that we should never have had to face the ordeal of a criminal trial. This is a further vindication of our conduct and we are very pleased with the outcome.”
“I understand that this is one of the highest awards of costs ever in a criminal case in New Zealand.”
“There are two ongoing civil claims which have been brought against some of the Feltex directors. We are continuing to defend those claims, and are confident of successful outcomes in those cases also.”

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