Real estate spruiker found guilty

A former company director who, according to ASIC, “induced” investors to acquire interests in a Queensland property development has been found guilty of ‘fraudulent misappropriation’.

Following an ASIC investigation, Steven William Hill, a former director of Kelso, NSW has been found guilty of six charges of fraudulent misappropriation by a Sydney District Court jury after a four-week trial.

ASIC alleged that between January 2006 and February 2007, Mr Hill, through Hill Stephens & Associates Pty Ltd and International Finance Consortium (Aust) Pty Ltd, induced various investors to pay approximately $618,000 to acquire interests in a 'house and land' property development located in Queensland.

The jury found Mr Hill guilty of fraudulently misappropriating $281,000 of the invested funds that were directed to company bank accounts to make payments to Mr Hill and other third parties.

He was, however, found not guilty of one charge of fraudulently misappropriating $150,000.

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. It will return to court on 7 April 2016 for a sentencing hearing.

“ASIC investigations reveal that between January 2006 and February 2007, Mr Hill met with various investors based in New South Wales,” the regulator said in a statement.

“Describing himself as a 'financier/consultant', Mr 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.

“Mr Hill reviewed the financial circumstances of investors, recommended they set up a self-managed superannuation fund (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,” the statement said.

ASIC noted that Mr Hill advised investors their funds would be used as 'seed capital' in a number of Queensland-based property developments that he was facilitating.

“Mr Hill advised investors that they would receive returns of between 10 to 30 per cent per annum; however, unknown to the investors, funds paid were not invested in the property developments as originally advised by Mr Hill.”

In June 2013, Mr Hill was charged with eight counts of fraudulent misappropriation.

In March 2015, he was ordered to stand trial on seven counts of fraudulent misappropriation.

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