Property boss jailed after clients lose life savings

A disgraced Melbourne businessman will spend at least three years behind bars after misappropriating $757,000 from clients.

Anthony Nicholls, 63, of Mitcham, was sentenced to four years and six months in jail by the Victorian County Court. That includes a non-parole period of three years.

Mr Nicholls pleaded guilty in May to three charges of dishonestly using his position as a director of Zantholls International and Peton Properties to misappropriate money from investors.

According to ASIC, which led the investigation, these companies raised $2.68 million from about 20 investors to be used for property developments in Ballarat. 

ASIC said that Mr Nicholls withdrew $757,000 from those funds for his own personal benefit between October 2004 and August 2006.

Peton was placed into liquidation in October 2007, owing creditors more than $4 million – a point highlighted by Judge Jane Patrick when she handed down her sentence.

“Mr Nicholls had placed multiple nails in the coffin of a terminally ill business and his moral culpability was high,” she said.

"It was serious offending involving dishonesty over a considerable period of time resulting in people losing their entire life savings and future security.”

[Related: Supreme Court compensates exploited home buyers]

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