Mr Douglas Johnston of Carrum Downs, has been found guilty by the County Court of Victoria on nine dishonesty charges that resulted in approximately $815,000 being defrauded from investors.
The offences were committed by Mr Johnston, who acted together with his wife Maureen Johnston, to secure funds from investors based on false representations as to how the money was to be used. During the period January 2010 to November 2013, investors deposited money into the bank account of Small Business Management Pty Ltd on the basis that they would make returns on their investment when in fact their funds were:
- withdrawn as cash by the Johnstons;
- used to repay the Johnstons’ credit cards debts;
- transferred to another account in the name of Maureen Johnston;
- used to pay new investor deposits in a ponzi-style operation.
Most of the investors met the Johnstons through their association with the Collingwood Football Club. The Johnstons developed friendships at the club before raising the idea of investing with them. The majority of the funds invested with the Johnstons was never repaid.
Mr Johnston has been bailed to appear on 21 May 2019 for a plea hearing in the County Court of Victoria. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for each offence.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.
Maureen and Douglas Johnston were originally charged together, but on 20 December 2017, Maureen Johnston pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria (15-397MR). Maureen Johnston was the former Director of SBM. After pleading guilty, Maureen Johnston was sentenced to five years and six months imprisonment (18-391MR).