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CDPP prosecutes former company director for stealing, fraud and dishonesty

Year
2024
Location
Western Australia

On 1 December 2023, Mr Peter Landau of Claremont Western Australia, a former company director of ASX-listed companies Continental Coal Limited (Continental Coal) and Citation Resources Limited (Citation), was convicted of 8 counts of stealing and other dishonesty offences contrary to both Commonwealth and Western Australian state law.

Mr Landau pleaded guilty to 5 counts of stealing moneys totalling $2,236,435.88 contrary to s378(8) of the Criminal Code (WA) and one count of forging and uttering a record with an intent to defraud contrary to s473 of the Criminal Code (WA).

Mr Landau also pleaded guilty to providing false and misleading information to the ASX and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), offences contrary to s1309(1) and s1308(2) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) respectively.

On 8 December 2023, Mr Landau was sentenced in the Supreme Court of Western Australia to 5 years and 2 months’ imprisonment for the state offences with a non-parole period of 3 years and 2 months. For the commonwealth offences, Mr Landau was sentenced to a total period of 12 months’ imprisonment, to commence at the expiration of the non-parole period.  Mr Landau must serve 6 months of his commonwealth sentence.

On 5 January 2024, Mr Landau was sentenced to a further 2 months’ imprisonment having pleaded guilty to one summary offence of failing to hold $1,032,000 of application money in trust from people applying for securities in Continental Coal, either prior to the securities being issued or the money being returned to the applicants.

The matter:

Between June 2015 and February 2016, in his capacity as company director, Mr Landau stole approximately $2.2 million from a Citation bank account without the knowledge of Citation’s other directors. He went on to use the funds for his own benefit, the benefit of other related entities and to repay Continental Coal investors. In 2016 ASIC commenced an investigation and Mr Landau was subsequently sentenced on the following charges:

  • One count of authorising the giving of information relating to the affairs of Continental Coal to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), which he knew was false or misleading, contrary to s1309(1) and s1311(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
  • One count of making or authorising the making of a statement in a document submitted to ASIC relating to Continental Coal, which he knew was false or misleading contrary to s1308(2) and s1311(1) of the Corporations Act (Cth)
  • Five counts of stealing money from Citation totalling $2,236,435.88, contrary to s378(8) of the Criminal Code (WA)
  • One count of forging and uttering a Westpac bank statement in the name of Citation with an intent to defraud Pearl Global Pty Ltd, contrary to s473 of the Criminal Code (WA).

Mr Landau also pleaded guilty to one count of failing to hold applicant money on trust after he transferred $1,032,000 from a Continental Coal trust account into other various bank accounts prior to securities being issued or the money being returned to the applicants.

On 30 April 2019 ASIC referred the matter to the CDPP’s Perth office who oversaw the prosecution of both commonwealth and state charges.

Sentencing:

The CDPP submitted that the offending was sophisticated considering the misappropriation of funds had been concealed from Citation’s other directors using the Citation Westpac account. Having regard to the objective criminality of the offending and the need for general deterrence, the CDPP submitted that the only appropriate sentencing disposition for each offence was a term of imprisonment.

In relation to the 6 state offences contrary to s378(8) and s473 of the Criminal Code (WA), Justice McGrath sentenced Mr Landau to 5 years and two months’ imprisonment and made him eligible for parole after serving 3 years and 2 months’ imprisonment per s93 of the Sentencing Act 1995 (WA).

In relation to the 2 commonwealth offences, contrary to s1309(1) and s1308(2) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), Justice McGrath sentenced Mr Landau to 12 months’ imprisonment. However, the court ordered that Mr Landau be released after serving 6 months’ imprisonment upon entering into a recognisance release order in the sum of $1,000, to be of good behaviour for the remaining 6 months.

Additionally, on 5 January 2024 Mr Landau was sentenced to a further 2 months' imprisonment for the Commonwealth summary offence pursuant to sections 722(1) and 1311(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). This term of imprisonment will be served cumulatively upon the existing state and Commonwealth sentences and is due to commence on 8 August 2027.

As a result of Mr Landau's conviction, he will be automatically disqualified from managing corporations for five years following his release from custody, contrary to s206B(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The purpose of disqualification is not only to penalise Mr Landau, but to also protect the public.

On sentencing, Justice McGrath said:

“For those who enter the corporate world and assume the responsibilities of being a director, the personal benefits are great but with the assumption of the responsibilities comes personal burden. It is at the time of pressure arising from financial difficulties that a director must most diligently adhere to the proper performance of their duties.”

This outcome reiterates that company officers will receive significant sentences if they fail to uphold the highest standards of corporate governance by acting with honesty and integrity.

Related links:

ASIC: Former Continental Coal and Citation Resources director Peter Landau sentenced