Kelly Tonkin’s $ 80million fraud ends in jail time
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON / Tips
Economist Kelly Tonkin was jailed for eight years, six months after losing around $ 80 million from investors to his frauds.
Sorry for the harm and no excuses.
Economist Kelly Tonkin, 51, made the comments in a letter he read to Christchurch District Court on Tuesday when he was sentenced to eight years and six months for fraud committed between 2012 and 2020.
Tonkin falsified various documents to make it look like its international investment fund was a success when it was failing.
Judge Tony Couch ordered Tonkin to serve at least four years and three months of its sentence before being eligible for parole, saying the frauds were among the most serious faced by New Zealand courts.
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Tonkin told the court the letter of apology was very difficult to write.
The people he had most disappointed with were his family, he said.
âThe lives of my wife and three children will be irreparably damaged by my actions. “
His parents, who had provided all the support a son could ask for, would be hurt and confused by what he had done.
“It’s hard to imagine that I could have done anything worse to such an innocent bunch of people,” he said.
“I still don’t understand why I chose to be dishonest rather than accept that the investments had gone badly,” he said.
âWhat I did was stupid, wrong and utterly dishonest. I am so sorry to all the people who lost money in their investments. I thought I could get their money back.
The former high-profile financier said he let down his staff who were like family and also let down some of his closest friends, whom he had known a lot from as a child.
âI can’t understand how I was able to do this to a wonderful group of supportive friends,â he said.
He also apologized to all groups he had been associated with, including a school board and charity. One of his biggest regrets, he said, was not being able to continue helping children develop a love for football, a game he had played since the 1970s.
Judge Couch said investors trusted Tonkin and his lies constituted a serious breach of trust. The effect on investors had been profound.
Some had lost their retirement savings and others felt embarrassed and ashamed. An investor was a school and the loss of money would affect its ability to provide services to students in the future.
âThe length and frequency of the offense, the amount of money lost and the number of victims place Mr. Tonkin’s offense among the most serious frauds ever dealt with by New Zealand courts. The position is reinforced by the blatant breach of trust, premeditation and sophistication involved, âhe said.
He gave Tonkin a 25 percent discount for its first guilty pleas and another 5 percent for its remorse. He would receive an additional 5% for his cooperation with the Serious Fraud Office investigation.
Tonkin, an economist trained at the University of Canterbury who had worked for the Treasury, established the Overseas Fund in 2004 to seek investments in currencies and other financial instruments.
In 2012, the fund and its associated companies were in trouble with big losses undermining the business. Instead of admitting failure, Tonkin began to cook the books. His frauds were discovered in March 2020 after he and his staff took pay cuts to keep the business going.
Tonkin had increased the fund’s value by hiding non-existent $ 100 million in Japanese currency in a collapsed spreadsheet column in its monthly reports. The material in the hidden cell has been written in white font on a white background.
Tonkin also generated accounts and audit records by copying a template from previous financial statements and adding the header and signature of an accounting firm.
He pleaded guilty to fraud offenses in June but disputed the amount lost to investors. Justice Couch found that it cost investors at least $ 80 million because they would not have continued to put money into the fund if they had known the truth.