House arrest for accountant who misled clients, misused funds
A New South Wales accountant and former financial adviser will spend 12 months under house arrest and undertake community service after pleading guilty to misappropriation and false or misleading statements.
Nicholas James Ellis, an accountant and former financial adviser operating in Valentine, NSW, has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment to be served by way of Intensive Corrections Order (ICO).
As a part of the ICO, Mr Ellis will serve 12 months by way of home detention, subject to a further suitability assessment, and undertake 700 hours of community service.
Mr Ellis had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of making false or misleading statements to obtain money from clients and fraudulent misappropriation of client funds.
An ASIC investigation found Mr Ellis sent 10 letters and one email to a number of his clients for the purpose of raising investment funds to purchase a hotel in Tura, NSW, through his company, Tura Pty Limited. The letters and email contained false and misleading statements in relation to the purchase of the hotel.
Mr Ellis admitted to fraudulently misappropriating approximately $562,000 of client funds received by Tura Pty Limited, using some of the funds to buy a house in Manly, NSW.
“Mr Ellis was a trusted financial adviser and accountant, who misled his clients and misused their funds for the benefit of his own business,” said ASIC commissioner Danielle Press.
“Accountants and financial advisers are in a position of trust. As demonstrated in this case, ASIC is prepared to take criminal action where trusted advisers misappropriate clients’ money.”
As a result of the sentence, Mr Ellis will automatically be disqualified from managing corporations for a period of five years.
The corporate regulator had also banned Mr Ellis from providing financial services in 2013 for a period of six years, after he was found to have made misleading statements about where client money was to be invested and accessed clients' SMSFs to pay off credit cards and purchase personal assets.
The matter will be back in court on 17 October for the purposes of determining Mr Ellis’ suitability for home detention.