Former Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Healthzone Limited, Mr Peter David Roach, will remain in jail after his conviction and sentence appeal was dismissed by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on 19 July 2019.
Following an investigation by ASIC, Mr Roach was convicted in October 2017 for conspiring to dishonestly obtain a $1 million director’s loan, as well as two counts of providing false and misleading information to the ASX and six counts of falsifying company documents.
Mr Roach was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment, with a minimum term of two years and three months to serve. In dismissing the appeal, the Court found that the sentence imposed was not manifestly excessive and lay comfortably within the reasonable exercise of sentencing discretion in the circumstances of the case.
‘The Court’s decision and affirmation of the sentence sends a clear message that the consequences of this type of misconduct are serious.
Mr Roach’s conduct was particularly egregious given his significant position as the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a publicly listed company,’ said ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour.
The initial matters were prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
In 2017, Mr Roach was found guilty by a jury of conspiring with Mr Ge Wu, a fellow director of Healthzone, to defraud the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Healthzone by obtaining a $1 million loan. The $1 million was loaned to Healthzone for on-lending to Mr Roach to buy shares in Healthzone. Mr Roach did not use the loan amount to buy shares in Healthzone. Instead, he used just over $900,000 to settle a family-related property issue. He also used the balance of the loan amount to pay personal and business expenses (17-405MR, 17-345MR and 14-165MR).
Once CBA provided the loan, Mr Roach authorised two ASX announcements to be made which falsely stated that he had purchased shares in Healthzone.
Mr Roach also falsified company documents, including altering a legal advice provided by Healthzone’s lawyers. On appeal, Mr Roach argued that the falsification of documents was a technical breach. The Court found that any such characterisation of those offences as technical or trivial is wholly inapt and unjustified.
In December 2015, following a guilty plea, Mr Roach was sentenced to a total of eighteen months imprisonment and served six months for conspiring with Mr Wu and Mr Robert Dulhunty, also a director of Healthzone, to commit market manipulation offences in relation to the shares of Healthzone.
Healthzone listed on the ASX in November 2006 and was delisted when it was placed into external administration and receivership in November 2011. Healthzone went into liquidation in March 2012.
On 19 May 2015, Mr Wu pleaded guilty to the conspiracy with Mr Roach and Mr Dulhunty to commit the market manipulation offences and to a breach of director’s duties in relation to the $1 million director’s loan for Mr Roach. Mr Wu was sentenced to a total of two years and nine months imprisonment and served nine months in prison.
On 1 December 2015, Mr Dulhunty, a former director of Healthzone was sentenced to a total of eighteen months imprisonment and served six months in prison for conspiring with Mr Wu and Mr Roach to commit market manipulation.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website explains to investors how to identify the warning signs of company director fraud and what to do if they think directors have defrauded a company.