Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Andrew FERGUSON - Disseminating false information to an officer of a corporation

Year: 
2017-2018
Category: 
Fraud
Location: 
South Australia

On 1 June 2018, the former Chief Executive Officer of abalone farm Australian Bight Abalone Ltd (ABA) Andrew Ferguson, was sentenced to 3 years, 6 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 1 year for providing false or misleading information to the company’s board and potential investors.

ABA was Australia's largest off-shore abalone farmer and raised about $44 million from 1400 investors over five years. ABA operated an abalone farm in off-shore cages located near Elliston in South Australia between 2005 and 2009.

On 19 January 2018, Ferguson was found guilty of 17 counts of providing false or misleading information to the company’s board and potential investors, which generally related to how well the abalone stock was performing by overstating the size of stock and understating losses.

ABA went into administration on 1 July 2009. Results from the final harvest of the abalone indicated implied mortality was 93% for the 2005 project, 93% for the 2006 project and 98% for the 2007 project.

Charges:

  • 9 counts of disseminating false or misleading information, contrary to section 1041E of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
  • 8 counts of making available or give false or misleading information to an officer of a corporation, contrary to section 1309 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Appeal:

Ferguson lodged an appeal against his conviction which was heard by the Full Court on 19 June 2018.  Appeal dismissed on 5 December 2018.