Date of Judgment: 2 October 2020
Court: District Court of Queensland
Partner Agency: Australian Securities and Investigations Commission (ASIC)
Summary of charges:
On 2 October 2020, Judge Julie Dick SC sitting in the Queensland District Court in Townsville, sentenced 55 year old former Townsville financial advisor, Mr Anthony Dick to eight years imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years and eight months.
The sentence followed pleas of guilty by Mr Dick to 11 offences of dishonestly applying clients’ funds to his own use contrary to s.408C(1)(a) of the Criminal Code (QLD).
Mr Dick’s offending involved withdrawing funds totalling $1,106,463 from the accounts of 10 clients on 125 occasions between March 2006 and December 2017.
Mr Dick targeted victims who were financially unsophisticated and/or trusting clients. Many of the victims were retired or close to retirement. One of the victims had an intellectual disability and was illiterate.
To dishonestly access victims’ funds Mr Dick either forged signatures of his victims or convinced victims to pre-sign withdrawal forms. In relation to one victim, Mr Dick had obtained direct internet access to the victim’s account. To conceal his identity Mr Dick transferred funds to third person accounts including to his ex-wife and young children.
Mr Dick would not show the victims any paperwork or bank statements and lied to victims about the health of their funds. Mr Dick also directed victims’ account statements to his address so the victims remained ignorant as to the true state of their accounts. By the end of the offending the balance of some of the accounts targeted by Mr Dick was reduced to nil.
Mr Dick used the funds to finance his lifestyle. His purchases included a car, a car engine, a 19-foot boat with accessories, and a boat engine.
On 23 April 2018, Mr Dick wrote a letter to the directors of the company for whom he was acting as an authorised representative at that time. In that letter Mr Dick disclosed that he had been misappropriating funds from his clients’ accounts over a period of approximately 10 years. A breach report was lodged with the Australian Securities and Investigations Commission (ASIC) a few days later, following which ASIC commenced an investigation into Mr Dick’s conduct.
In the course of the investigation Mr Dick participated in a recorded of interview with ASIC and made full admissions.
Mr Dick has not paid reparation to any of the victims. Most of the victims have been reimbursed through their banks.
Mr Dick was sentenced to eight years imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years and eight months.
Her Honour Judge Dick SC noted that a head sentence of nine years would have been imposed but for the defendant’s self-reporting. Her Honour therefore applied a discount of one year for the defendant’s self-reporting.
“With the amount of money involved, with your possession of trust, with the pain you have caused the victims, the ordinary sentence would be nine years; but we have been talking about a case of AB, it’s a High Court case and that binds me, and it says in part, an offender who confesses to crimes generally to be treated more leniently than an offender who does not; an offender who brings to the notice of the authorities criminal conduct that was not previously known and confesses to that conduct, is generally to be treated more leniently than the offender who pleads guilty to offences”
A psychological report was tendered on behalf of Mr Dick at sentencing. The report relayed that the defendant’s offending commenced when he was under pressure to pay his mortgage and pay school fees for the kids.
Her Honour remarked:
“I have seen this too often: after the first one, it becomes easier. It was sophisticated to the point that you diverted money into accounts other than your own, and I come to the conclusion that it was not just for need but there was some greed, because you bought a big boat and a car. I accept there was also need, but I cannot say it was all about that.”
A number of victims provided moving Victim Impact Statements. Through their Victim Impact Statements the victims spoke of their concern about their financial circumstances as a result of Mr Dick’s conduct and of their loss of trust in people.