New Zealand Law Society - Ponzi scheme operator jailed for $17.5 million fraud

Ponzi scheme operator jailed for $17.5 million fraud

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A Christchurch man who defrauded his clients of at least $17.5 million through a Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to eight years in prison with a minimum non-parole period of four years for charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The SFO says Paul Clifford Hibbs was sentenced at the Christchurch District Court. He previously pleaded guilty to charges of ‘False statement by promoter’, ‘Theft by person in special relationship’, ‘Using forged documents’ and ‘Forgery’.

The Office says Mr Hibbs owned and operated Cameron Gladstone Investments Ltd and Hansa Ltd. Through these entities he provided clients with false investment reports and used their funds for unauthorised activities, which included using the proceeds from sales of clients’ investments to pay other investors. Mr Hibbs also used client money for business expenses, including paying dividends, and for personal purposes.

“The sentence imposed reflects the very serious nature of the offending. Mr Hibbs deceived his clients in a number of ways resulting in significant monetary losses,” says SFO Director, Julie Read.

“The prosecution of such matters is an important aspect of protecting New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business. People engaged in this sort of misconduct will be prosecuted and held to account.”

The Financial Markets Authority initially referred the matter to the SFO and assisted with the investigation.

Paul Hibbs was employed for a number of years as a private banker, dealing with high net worth individuals, buying and selling shares and managing clients’ investment portfolios. He left banking in 2002 and incorporated the investment advisory businesses, Cameron Gladstone Investments Ltd, and later, Hansa Ltd. Mr Hibbs solicited some of his old banking clients who bought with them their existing portfolios and investments.
He was not a registered financial services provider.