Real estate Ponzi scheme couple committed for trial

A Melbourne couple has been charged with 70 offences including fraud and obtaining a financial advantage or property by deception.

Following a three-day committal hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court, Maureen Gael Johnston and Douglas Gordon Johnston, both of Carrum Downs, Victoria, have been committed for trial in the Victorian County Court on numerous fraud and deception charges.

Following an ASIC investigation, the Johnstons were charged with a total of more than 70 offences including fraud and obtaining a financial advantage or property by deception for their involvement with Investman Nominees (USA) Pty Ltd and Small Business Management Pty Ltd.

The corporate watchdog said that through their close association with the Collingwood Football Club, the Johnstons allegedly misled club supporters into investing approximately $1.5 million into various property developments purportedly in the USA or Australia.

ASIC alleges the funds raised by the Johnstons were not used to develop any properties, but were instead used in part for gambling at the Melbourne Crown Casino, paying personal credit card debts and to make interest payments to investors in a “Ponzi-style operation”.

Mr and Mrs Johnston both entered a plea of not guilty and were released on bail, with the matter listed for a directions hearing on 18 January 2016 at the Victorian County Court.

[Related: Judge orders agency to be named and shamed]

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