Former director and owner of now-defunct company The Media Counsel (TMC) Glenda Wynyard has been sentenced to eight months' home detention.
This news comes after she was found guilty of 11 Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on 27 March.
According to Serious Fraud Office, Wynyard had in her role as director of TMC redirected payments that were due to her accredited agency, Aegis, to repay a debt under an invoice factoring facility. And this, according to the Herald report, left Aegis $650,000 out of pocket (although this figure was disputed by the defence).
She also presented cheques she knew would not be honoured and provided false and misleading information to the Print Media Accreditation Authority in order to gain accreditation.
Wynyard indicated that she will be filing an appeal. She has been granted bail and the sentence has been suspended pending that appeal.
Wynyard is currently employed at Chaos Media Group in Sydney (where she is listed as a founder), and the company's chief executive David Lewis has backed Wynyard throughout the process. And in a statement released to Mumbrella, Lewis said that Chaos Group would continue to support her through the appeal process.
“Ms Wynyard’s appeal is founded on legal advice that the core findings of the District Court Judge are susceptible to challenge on a legal and factual basis," Lewis said. "Suffice to say, Ms Wynyard maintains she is innocent of criminal wrongdoing and Chaos Media remains supportive of Ms Wynyard and the advice offered by her legal team. There was no suggestion whatsoever or allegation that she had misappropriated any money for her own personal use and, contrary to statements elsewhere, she was not found to have defrauded any client.”
Previous story (27 March 2015): The Media Counsel founder Glenda Wynyard convicted on 11 counts of fraud
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) earlier today sent out a release confirming that Glenda Wynyard, former director and owner of now-defunct company The Media Counsel (TMC), has been found guilty in the Auckland District Court of 11 out of 13 Crimes Act charges laid. Her sentencing trial will now follow on 24 April.
This announcement follows a five-week trial, during which Wynyard faced two charges of causing loss by deception, seven charges of theft by person in a special relationship and four charges of dishonestly using a document in relation to approximately $1.8 million of payments to media suppliers and client invoices.
According to the release, Wynyard was convicted of redirecting payments that were due to her accredited agency, Aegis, to repay a debt under an invoice factoring facility. Ms Wynyard was also convicted of presenting cheques she knew would not be honored and for providing false and misleading information to the Print Media Accreditation Authority in order to gain accreditation.
Of the charges laid, Wynyard was only acquitted on one count of causing loss by deception and one count of theft by a person in a special relationship.
Initially, when charged in 2013, the SFO laid 19 charges of causing loss by deception and four charges of dishonestly using a document.
SFO alleged that Wynyard directed approximately $2.4 million of client invoice payments due to Aegis, to repay the Marac debt factoring facility.
“Financial crime inevitably results in an increase in the cost of doing business," said Simon McArley, SFO acting chief executive at the time. "SFO is working hard to remove these costs from our economy and support a stronger and more confident business environment.”
In late 2008, TMC entered into a debt factoring agreement with Marac Finance (Marac). This agreement enabled TMC to obtain advances from Marac. In November 2009, after losing its own accreditation, TMC entered into an agreement with Aegis Media New Zealand Limited (Aegis) to provide media buying services as TMC’s accredited agency.
By 2010, TMC was placed into liquidation and it was the liquidator McDonald Vague that first notified SFO of the wrongdoing, leading to the investigation that has now resulted in the conviction.
When the scandal first surfaced, Wynyard released the following statement on StopPress in response to her detractors:
I am somewhat dismayed and distressed by the misinformation that is being fed into the various industry websites and I would like to rectify some of this. These are:
I just want all of you to know that I fought to keep my business going because I had clients that I loved, staff that I cared for and a business with strong craft skills that was growing. My failing is that I have never liked the financial side of business, I am a craft person, and this is a fact that anyone who came into contact with me knows as I am completely open about that. I paid literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last 14 months to a range of mentors, advisors, business managers, financiers and external accounting organisations to advise and assist me because I understood my shortcoming in this area.
- Watch & Win Limited – Richard Hayes and Troy Elliot were the two directors of this company. They approached me in my capacity as managing director of Universal McCann and then McCann Erickson. Watch & Win, and the directors, were investigated by the Department of Internal Affairs and were dealt with through the court system. At no time was McCann Erickson, Glenda Wynyard or any other McCann staff member under investigation by the DIA for inappropriate actions. I spent five days in court as the DIA’s witness.
- Staff – all staff were informed that they would be paid and they should be settled as part of the liquidation process. Only one month’s income is owing (payable on the 25th January for the month of January) plus any holiday pay (however most people had just taken leave over the Christmas period) and any other monies that may be payable under the liquidation process. It would have occurred quicker but see point three.
- Liquidation – this has been held up by some of the creditors who determined that they wished to appoint their own liquidator as they did not wish to support the liquidator that I suggested. I don’t know how long that this will take to occur now given that creditors need to go through quite a lengthy process as yet no one has advised me as to whom they would like appointed.
- Sarah Norrie and Mediacom were not aware that this was going to take place ahead of time. I also tried to contact Kath Watson, who was in Australia at the time. I tried to keep as much of the business together in one lump as I could so that as many as the staff could be walked into a role. I did not receive any monies to do this. Mediacom is not responsible for the demise of our business.
- $2.4m shareholder loan – this is a reference to my shareholder’s account which is overdrawn. It is not a loan; it is four years of drawings, mortgage payments and an intercompany transaction that took place upon the advice of our external accountant at the time and now sits as drawings (which I don’t physically have) in my shareholder account. By the way, this represents around 2% of our net billings over this period of time. My actual earnings were much less than this.
- Ransacked offices – personal items that I paid for with my own money were removed; plant and equipment is at the TMC premises and awaits sale. These items do need removing soon because the landlord would like to rent the premises out to new tenants.
I could have walked away with literally millions over the past 12 months but I didn’t do that. I stayed and fought to keep the business I was so proud of going. I have literally walked away with very little to show for my efforts apart from a crushed ego, a massive mortgage, debts to media owners and trade, along with the loss of my 27 year career, a shattered family and the benefit of hindsight which is of little use right now. I will no doubt be bankrupted over the next few months as well as all the personal losses that comes with this. What more would the “anonymous” like from me? I am distraught – not happy, not smug, not cosy – but distraught over what has occurred. I don’t take any of this lightly. I don’t take that people and companies haven’t been paid lightly. I don’t take that some staff don’t have jobs lightly. I don’t take that clients' business has been disrupted lightly. This is my doing and I accept that.
There are so many ifs ... but hindsight is a great thing. Yes, the recession hit us. Our same client billings were at 38% of what they were the previous year. Had we had these clients billing at the same levels plus the new business we had taken on then our revenue streams may have been able to see us through this year and into more comfortable space.
You people that haven’t the balls to put your name to your posts and those that have never had to run your own business should take stock of yourselves. The feasting frenzy over the demise of Glenda Wynyard and TMC is actually quite disgusting because we had to cease trading – with no international agency to prop us up and no revenue for three months the fragility of our situation hit us very quickly. It was dreadful. Anyone sitting near to me knew very well the battles that I had and how much I tried. Every time I thought I would be able to do something, another block would be put in our way. I had one last hope but it didn’t work out in the end for which I am endlessly sorry. The decision to go into liquidation occurred overnight as any other options that I had were just too many days or weeks away. And that is it.
This is the last you will ever hear from me on this subject as the professionals need to do what they need to do well to help me tidy this mess up. To all those that have offered me support and well wishes, many thanks; to all those that I have caused distress, again, I am so very sorry but once a liquidator is appointed there are two particular debtors that combined owe a significant amount of monies and I am sure that much will be settled once they are pursued through the correct channels.
All the best