David Sipina, of Croydon in NSW, has been charged with criminal offences relating to alleged misconduct at the Courtenay House group of companies.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) noted that Mr Sipina, who appeared in the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday (21 February), is the third individual to face criminal charges after former director Tony Iervasi and former contractor Athan Papoulias were both charged.
Both Mr Iervasi and Mr Papoulias have pleaded guilty. The ASIC noted that Mr Sipina was engaged by Courtenay House Capital Trading Group to promote the Courtenay House business.
He is facing one charge of carrying on a financial services business without a licence, one charge of dealing in the proceeds of crime worth $1 million or more, and one charge of engaging in dishonest conduct in relation to a financial product or service.
“The charges relate to the Courtenay House group of companies, where it is alleged that around 585 investors paid over $180 million based on representations that their funds would be traded in the Forex and Futures markets when in fact, only a small proportion of funds were traded,” the ASIC explained.
“Instead, it is alleged that the majority of new investor funds were used to pay older investors, a fraudulent arrangement known as a Ponzi scheme. Mr Iervasi was the individual responsible for the Ponzi scheme and has been charged with and pleaded guilty to offences relating to his role.”
The regulator noted that it is not alleged that Mr Sipina or Mr Papoulias were aware of the Ponzi scheme. However, it is alleged that their conduct facilitated the continuation of the Ponzi scheme and they derived benefits from it.
In relation to Mr Sipina, it is alleged that between 24 June 2015 and 21 April 2017, Mr Sipina carried on (with others) an unlicensed financial services business and dealt with money or other property which was, and he believed to be, the proceeds of crime, in the form of commissions he received for promoting investments in Courtenay House despite it being unlicensed.
Separately, the ASIC said that it is alleged that Mr Sipina obtained personal information on false pretences from investors and used that information to mislead representatives of the responsible entity for the Courtenay House Capital Investment Fund.
The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation and referral by the ASIC and is listed for mention in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on 18 April.