Property spruiker jailed for fraud

A former company director and property spruiker has been sentenced to two years and nine months’ jail after he was found guilty of misappropriating more than $280,000.

Steven William Hill was yesterday sentenced in the Sydney District Court following an ASIC investigation. 

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

The defendant was found guilty of misappropriating $281,000 of the invested funds, which were directed to company bank accounts to make payments to Hill and other third parties.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said Hill’s actions betrayed the trust of his investors and caused them significant financial harm.

“Today's sentence showed such behaviour will not be tolerated,” Mr Tanzer said.

Between January 2006 and February 2007, Hill met with several investors based in New South Wales. Hill presented himself as a ‘financier/consultant’ and – through his company Hill Stephens & Associates – told the investors he would be able to provide them with investment opportunities to build their wealth towards retirement.

Hill recommended the investors set up a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) for investment, referred investors to a solicitor to establish a SMSF, elicited establishment fees and instructed them to deposit their funds to his company's bank accounts, ASIC said in a statement.

ASIC found that Hill advised investors their funds would be used as ‘seed capital’ in several Queensland- based property developments he was facilitating. Hill advised the investors that they would receive returns of between 10 to 30 per cent per year. However, unknown to the investors, funds paid were not invested in the property developments as originally advised by Hill.

In March, about two years after he was charged, Hill was convicted of six counts of fraudulent misappropriation. He was found not guilty of one charge of fraudulently misappropriating $150,000. 

Hill has to serve a minimum of one year and nine months before he is eligible for parole.

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