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Thursday 14 August 2014

14-200MR South Yarra accountant jailed for operating illegal investment schemes

South Yarra accountant, Mark Ronald Letten, was today sentenced in the Melbourne County Court to five years and eight months imprisonment on charges brought by ASIC.

Mr Letten had earlier pleaded guilty to 27 charges under the Corporations Act 2001, including operating 21 unregistered managed investment schemes relating to property development.

Mr Letten, 60, the former director of LGH Holdings Ltd (in liquidation) and the principal of the accounting firm Lettens Pty Ltd, formerly The Letten Group, had also admitted to dishonestly using his position as a director involving the use of investor funds more than $533,000 and of carrying on a financial services business without an Australian financial services (AFS) licence.

Mr Letten must serve three years jail before being eligible for release.

Between 1998 and 2010, more than 1000 investors, the majority of whom were sourced through Mr Letten's accountancy practice, placed more than $100 million in investment property schemes in Australia and New Zealand. Mr Letten managed and promoted the projects through a number of companies, including LGH Holdings Ltd.

The companies and unregistered schemes were wound up following a number of applications by ASIC in the Federal Court of Victoria, commencing in 2010.

Investors suffered losses of at least $67 million in the schemes.

In sentencing, the judge found the non-registration of the schemes and absence of associated investor protections had contributed significantly to the loss.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft said, 'Mr Letten acted in complete disregard for the law and with little concern for the interests of the investors. His jailing should send a strong message to company directors and scheme operators about the serious consequences of operating property investment schemes outside the legal requirements'.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.

Background

Mr Letten was charged in December 2011 and was to face a trial following a committal hearing in December 2012 (refer: 12-330MR).

Appearing in the Victoria County Court on 28 January 2014, Mr Letten pleaded guilty to 27 charges including:

  • 21 counts of operating unregistered managed investment schemes
  • one count of carrying on a financial services business without a AFS licence, and
  • five counts of breaching directors duties.  
Last updated: 29/06/2016 05:47