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Guilty verdict for former director

A former New South Wales company director, who ASIC said persuaded investors to set up SMSFs and pay about $618,000 for sham property investments, has been found guilty of six charges fraudulent misappropriation.

A Sydney District Court jury found Steven William Hill of Hill Stephens & Associates Pty Ltd and International Finance Consortium (Aust) Pty Ltd, guilty of fraudulently misappropriating $281,000 of client-invested funds.

According to ASIC, during January 2006 to February 2007, Hill advised clients to set up SMSFs for investment opportunities he could provide via interests in a “house and land” property development in Queensland.

Hill instructed clients to make deposits into his company bank accounts, which would be used as “seed capital” for various property developments.

He advised clients they would receive returns of 10 per cent to 30 per cent a year on the developments.

“Describing himself as a ‘financier/consultant’, Hill, through his company Hill Stephens & Associates Pty Ltd, told investors he would be able to provide them with investment opportunities to build their wealth towards retirement,” ASIC said.

“Mr Hill reviewed the financial circumstances of investors, recommended they set up a SMSF for investment, referred investors to a solicitor to establish a SMSF, elicited establishment fees and instructed investors to deposit their funds to his company bank accounts.”

It said Hill failed to invest those funds as promised and unknown to clients he used the money directed to company bank accounts to make payments to himself and other third parties.

The jury found Hill not guilty of one charge of fraudulently misappropriating $150,000.

The matter will return to court on 7 April for sentencing.

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