LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – A former financial adviser was today sentenced to almost five years imprisonment
after pleading guilty on 18 September 2007 to 19 fraud-related charges involving the misappropriation of over $1.3 million following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Mr Matthew David Leech, now of Mathoura, New South Wales, was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court to 59 months imprisonment after ASIC alleged he misappropriated money obtained from 15 former clients. He will serve a minimum of 44 months.
Mr Leech was found guilty of four counts of theft and 13 counts of obtaining either financial advantage, or property, by deception totalling approximately $1.3 million. Mr Leech was also sentenced in respect of one count of creating false documents and one count of using his position as a director of a company, Nataimosh Pty Ltd, to gain an advantage for himself in the amount of $51,450.
The Court heard that a majority of the funds were used to settle Mr Leech’s gambling debts, as a result of his gambling through online gaming facilities. A significant amount was also diverted to his private company and used to trade shares.
Mr Leech, 35, was a financial adviser who had worked for an accounting practice in Kyneton, Victoria since 1997. From 1998 to 2005, Mr Leech misappropriated funds, including superannuation and workers’ compensation lump sum payments, from clients based in the local and surrounding areas.
Mr Leech was a securities representative of Wheeler Investment Advisors Pty Ltd between April 1997 and June 2003. He was also a representative of Financial Planning & Life Pty Ltd between May 2003 and November 2005.
ASIC’s Executive Director of Enforcement, Ms Jan Redfern, noted today’s result.
‘The jailing of Mr Leech shows that financial advice professionals who abuse the trust of their clients by stealing from those seeking their guidance, face significant consequences’, Ms Redfern said.
ASIC is currently examining potential options available to those affected clients to obtain appropriate compensation.
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.