Businessman Steven Robertson has been sentenced to six years, eight months’ imprisonment at the Auckland High Court, as a result of an investigation by the Financial Markets Authority.
Robertson was convicted of 38 charges in August this year, brought by the Crown under the Crimes Act 1961, relating to Prosper Through Trading (PTT Limited in liquidation) and associated entities:
- 23 counts of theft by a person in a special relationship
- 11 counts of obtaining by deception
- 4 counts of dishonestly using a document
Robertson was found to have misappropriated funds deposited by clients who believed that those funds were to be traded on their behalf, or were paid as consideration for the purported purchase of shares in PTT Limited or an associated entity. He was also found to have withdrawn funds from credit card accounts of some clients without the client’s authority and knowledge.
In sentencing Robertson on 30 October, Justice Sarah Katz said the Crown case against him was overwhelming and he used his sales skills to deceive honest clients.
The judge said Robertson’s offending was premeditated and prolonged, it was moderately sophisticated (including the creation of false documents), it was motivated by greed to fund an extravagant lifestyle and he targeted vulnerable people, particularly the elderly, trusting and financially naïve.
The judge added Robertson held himself as a skilled adviser in financial matters, particularly in relation to trading on financial markets.
“Cases like this can unfairly erode trust in New Zealand’s financial advice sector.”
FMA Head of Enforcement, Karen Chang, says, “Many people suffered as a result of dealing with Mr Robertson and we strongly condemn what he did. The sentencing demonstrates the serious consequences for his criminal conduct.”
She added that the FMA brought this case in part because Robertson was purporting to provide services that would have required him to be an AFA or an RFA.
“Cases like this can unfairly erode trust in New Zealand’s financial advice sector. We will hold people to account when they fail to adhere to the law,” she said.
“We would also like to remind people to take extreme care before investing their hard-earned money and to always use an FMA-licensed provider.”