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Ex-employee of Sir Peter Jackson convicted of fraud

17 September 2019

The former production manager of an aircraft manufacturer, The Vintage Aviator Ltd (TVAL), has been convicted of fraud on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The SFO says a jury found Eugene John DeMarco (57) guilty of six counts of fraud at the High Court in Wellington. Mr DeMarco was convicted of ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’ and ‘Obtaining by deception’ in relation to the sale of three reproduction vintage aircraft to the New Zealand Warbirds Association Inc. He was convicted of ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’ in relation to a BE2e aircraft, owned by TVAL. He was also found guilty of ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’ and ‘Obtaining by Deception’ in relation to the unauthorised use of another vintage aircraft, a P-40, as security to obtain a loan.

Mr DeMarco committed the frauds while he was employed by TVAL, a company owned by Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh. The SFO says he broke the law on several counts to rid himself of a debt of more than $1 million he owed to a trust controlled by Mr Jackson and Ms Walsh. The purpose of the loan, which was expected to be a short-term one, was to assist the defendant gain full ownership of a company he co-owned.

“Mr DeMarco defrauded his employer, a charitable organisation, a friend and a bank. His offending was premediated and driven by self-interest. The prosecution of such matters is an important aspect of protecting New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business,” says SFO Director Julie Read.

Mr DeMarco is scheduled to reappear for sentencing at the High Court in Wellington on 31 October.

Last updated on the 17th September 2019