By Andrew Patterson, RadioLIVE Business Editor
The jailing of Rod Petricevic for six and half years today is entirely appropriate for an individual who was almost contemptuous of those investors who had placed their faith in finance companies such as Bridgecorp.
His actions are possibly some of the worst exhibited by a director of a high profile company in recent New Zealand corporate history, where the level of deceit exhibited by Petricevic and his fellow directors almost defied belief.
In what was an orchestrated attempt to lie to investors as to why their interest payments hadn’t been received, Petricevic demonstrated a callous disregard for both his investors and his responsibilities as a company director while living a lifestyle that encompassed the best of what was on offer; from luxury cars to expensive boats and other trappings associated with such a lifestyle.
What I still find difficult to understand with these cases is the complete lack of stewardship and ethical responsibility exhibited by these former directors of finance companies.
Stewardship is a concept we don’t hear much about these days and yet the very essence of stewardship goes to the heart of why so many finance companies failed so spectacularly. It involves thinking of capital invested from a preservation perspective and that, while risk is a necessary aspect of any business, to take on the degree of risk that many of these finance companies engaged in was both negligent and a complete dereliction of duty on the part of the directors responsible.
For the majority of these investors, this was money they had worked hard to save and in many cases represented sacrifices they had made by doing without – a concept that Rod Petricevic would have struggled to understand given his lavish lifestyle.
Let's hope that a line in the sand can finally be drawn on this whole sad and sorry saga that has inflicted so much pain on literally hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. If there is any lesson to be drawn from the collapse of so many finance companies it's that directors overseeing funds must treat them as if they were their own and act accordingly.
It’s only a pity that more directors didn’t heed this simple mantra in their oversight of investors' funds and consider their role as stewards of these funds, rather than the reckless gamblers that they turned out to be.
Rod Petricevic's mother Francis rang RadioLIVE earlier to show support for her son. Listen to her call by clicking here.