Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) acting chairman, Jeremy Cooper, today said he "noted" the jail sentence imposed on Robert Andrew Street after Street pleaded guilty to five charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception involving AU$1 million of investors' money between September 2001 and August 2002. The sentence -- which includes a non-parole period of four years -- was imposed following an ASIC investigation.
Street got involved in the scam after receiving a faxed letter from a Reverend Sam Kukah, who purported to be a representative of a Nigerian government body called the Presidential Payment Debt Reconciliation Committee. The scammer had offered to transfer US$65 million to Street's account upon payment of certain up-front fees.
Street transferred the majority of the funds he took from his clients to various overseas destinations, believing it would be used to pay the up-front fees, after which time he would receive the US$65 million.
Street, a former financial adviser, deceived some of his clients by telling them he needed funding to complete a number of investment projects he was developing. These included an electronic system of tracking stolen cars and a bank scheme to reduce mortgage repayments.
Street promised his clients that investments in his projects would be risk free and would provide good returns in a short time. As a result, the clients gave Street a total of AU$1,039,910.
He also used AU$10,000 of the clients' funds to buy a number of mobile phones which he arranged to be delivered to an address in Nigeria.
ASIC accepted an enforceable undertaking from Street permanently excluding him from the financial services industry. ASIC also previously obtained orders in the Federal Court, appointing liquidators to Street's companies.
"Advisers who deceive clients about the nature and risk of investments must be brought to justice. The jailing of Street should act as a warning to other financial advisers about their duties and responsibilities," Cooper said.
So-called "Nigerian investment scams" are, of course, familiar to just about anyone who operates an e-mail inbox not guarded by filters that block out fraudulent or spam e-mails.