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Third offender pleads guilty but not to ASIC Ponzi scheme charges

Yasmine Masi21 March 2024
Two gold cogs with regulatory and compliance written on them for ASIC

A third individual has pleaded guilty to two charges brought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for their involvement in the illegal dealings of the Courtenay House group of companies.

David Sipina pleaded guilty to one count of carrying on (with others) a financial services business without a license and one count of dealing in the proceeds of crime worth $1 million or more, after it was found he was involved in referring new investors to the Courtenay House group and marketing the business from 2015 to 2017; ASIC confirmed Sipina was unaware it was a Ponzi scheme.

The company offered investors opportunities to invest in funds that were supposedly trading in the Forex and Futures markets, with the scheme collecting over $180 million from 585 investors. However, not all the money invested was traded, with the majority of it used to repay earlier investors.

Sipina also pleaded guilty to dealing with money which was, and which he believed to be, the proceeds of crime, receiving commissions for promoting investments with Courtenay House despite it being unlicensed.

Sipina is the third individual to plead guilty to criminal charges related to Courtenay House’s dealings, after former contractor, Athan Papoulias, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for his involvement in the unlicensed financial services business and former director, Tony Iervasi, pleaded guilty to charges related to operating the Ponzi scheme.

Sipina will be sentenced in the Sydney District Court, while Iervasi’s sentencing hearing will be in the Supreme Court of NSW on 22 and 24 April.

The maximum penalty at the time of the offending for carrying on a financial services business without an Australian Financial Services license was two years’ imprisonment, a fine of $34,000, or both. For dealing with the proceeds of crime, believing it to be proceeds of crime, the maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment, a fine of $204,000, or both.

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