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ASIC pursues criminal charges against $196 million Ponzi scheme

By Mike Taylor30 November 2021

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has pursued criminal charges against an alleged Ponzi scheme involving foreign exchange and futures trading by two men involved in an unlicensed entity.

The regulator said that Tony Iervasi of Tweed Heads and Athan Papoulias of Brighton Le Sands, NSW, had today appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court charged with criminal offences for their actions relating to an alleged Ponzi scheme.

It said Iervasi is facing nine criminal charges of dishonest conduct and one charge of carrying on a financial services business without a licence.

Papoulias is facing one charge of dealing in the proceeds of crime worth $1 million or more, and one charge of aiding and abetting Iervasi in carrying on a financial services business without a licence.

The charges relate to around 590 investors who paid over $196 million into the Ponzi scheme.

ASIC said Iervasi was the sole director and shareholder of Courtenay House Pty Ltd (in liquidation) and Courtenay House Capital Trading Group Pty Ltd (in liquidation). Mr Papoulias was a contractor engaged by Courtenay House Capital Trading Group to promote the Courtenay House business.

It is alleged that, between October 2010 and 21 April 2017:

  • Iervasi and the Courtenay House companies represented to investors that their funds would be traded in the Forex and Futures markets when only a small proportion of funds were traded;
  • Iervasi personally, and through the Courtenay House companies, acquired investor funds and did not invest them for the intended purpose;
  • Iervasi went on to pay monthly amounts to investors representing they were returns from trading, when little to no trading had occurred;
  • Iervasi was operating an unlicenced financial services business;
  • Papoulias continued to promote the Courtenay House business and receive commissions despite becoming aware that Mr Iervasi was operating an unlicensed financial services business;
  • Papoulias dealt with money or other property which is, or he believed to be, the proceeds of crime.

ASIC alleges the conduct occurred to allow a Ponzi scheme to operate and grow.

The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) after an investigation and referral by ASIC.

The matter is listed for first mention in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on 22 February 2022.

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Managing Editor/Publisher, Financial Newswire

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