Trial of prominent and wealthy NZ businessman, accused of indecent assault, begins in Auckland

The trial of a prominent and wealthy businessman, accused of indecently assaulting young men and then attempting to bribe one to stop them giving evidence, has begun.

Today, the Herald can also report for the first time the businessman is charged with indecently assaulting a third man, along with the allegations he refutes against two other complainants.

His trial started this morning in the High Court at Auckland before a jury, of nine women and three men, and Justice Geoffrey Venning.

The businessman, who continues to enjoy name suppression, faces three charges over allegations he indecently assaulted three men on separate occasions in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

He is also accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice on two occasions in 2017 by attempting to dissuade the 2016 complainant with payment of $15,000 and the offer of future work opportunities.

The rich-lister’s manager, who has name suppression, is also on trial and jointly faces a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice by attempting to dissuade the same complainant.

Both men deny all the charges.

Justice Venning also told the jury a third defendant, a well-known entertainer, has already pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The entertainer, who has interim name suppression, is due to be sentenced next month.

“The fact he has pleaded guilty does not affect your task in relation to these two defendants,” Justice Venning said of the businessman and his manager as they sat in the dock.

The judge also notified the jury they were sitting on a retrial after an earlier trial in the District Court during March 2019 for the three defendants was aborted.

“For reasons it is unnecessary to go into, this trial was unable to be completed,” he said.

The businessman and his manager are represented by top Auckland defence lawyers David Jones QC and Rachael Reed QC, while Simon Foote QC is prosecuting the case.

The trial is expected to last about a month.

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