Combatting corporate and financial crime is a key focus of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) – Australia’s Federal prosecution service.

We outline three recent NSW cases and the prosecution results obtained by the CDPP, as outlined on their website.

Case 1: Foreign bribery

Background

The defendant controlled several companies based across Australia, Nauru, India and the UAE, involved in importing rock phosphate from Nauru to Australia.

Between 2015-2017, illegitimate payments of $129,500 (AUD) were made to Nauruan foreign public officials to expedite shipments to Australia. These shipments resulted in significant profits for the companies, which essentially funded the bribes.

The charges

The defendant pleaded guilty to two offences of causing bribes totalling $129,500 to be paid to foreign public officials, contrary to the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for each of the offences is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 10,000 penalty units.

Sentencing

The defendant was convicted on both offences with a fixed aggregate sentence of two years and six months, to be served by way of an Intensive Correction Order (ICO).

A sentencing discount of 25 per cent was applied as the offender entered a guilty plea at the first available opportunity in the Local Court. In determining sentencing, Her Honour also noted that the offender had no prior criminal record, was otherwise of good character, showed remorse, and was “highly unlikely to re-offend”.

Case 2: Insider trading

Background

Between 2016-2018, the defendant traded in the shares and options of a company while in possession of inside information, which was also communicated to an associate.

During the offending period, the defendant used three different brokers and seven different trading accounts to acquire securities, with a total investment of approximately $1.6 million.

In 2018 he voluntarily reported his involvement in insider trading to ASIC, and the matter was subsequently referred to the CDPP.

The charges

On 25 February 2020, the defendant pleaded guilty to six charges of prohibited conduct engaged in by a person in possession of inside information contrary to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Sentencing

The defendant was formally convicted of each offence and sentenced to an aggregate term of three years’ imprisonment, to be served by way of an ICO. An additional condition of 250 hours of community service work was imposed.

A 50 per cent sentencing discount was applied, which comprised:

  • 25 per cent for his plea of guilty,
  • 5 per cent for his past assistance, and
  • 5 per cent for his undertaking to provide future assistance.

In determining sentencing, His Honour also noted that the offender had high prospects of rehabilitation, as evidenced by his voluntary disclosure.

Case 3: Ponzi scheme

Background

The defendant was an independent financial advisor who provided financial services to retirees or people nearing retirement who were looking to invest their superannuation savings. After “losing his moral compass”, he began operating a Ponzi Scheme under the guise of his business.

Close to $2 million in funds belonging to 10 victim clients were misappropriated. For some victims, this represented most of their retirement savings.

The charges

The defendant pleaded guilty to six charges of engaging in dishonest conduct in relation to a financial product in the course of carrying on a financial service business, contrary to the Corporations Act.

Sentencing

The defendant was sentenced to six years imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years. A number of victims provided statements to the court which illustrated the deep distress caused.

A sentencing discount of 25 per cent was applied due to the defendant’s early guilty plea and indications of remorse, which included an apology letter to the victims.