Melbourne accountant convicted

Mr Jason Dermot Cullen, 50, of Yarraville, Victoria has been sentenced by the County Court of Victoria following his entering of a plea of guilty to two charges of making a false or misleading statement in a document required by, or for the purposes of, the Corporations Act.

The Court found that on 18 January 2012 and 9 August 2012, Mr Cullen, an accountant employed by an accounting and financial advisory firm, raised two invoices for amounts totaling $275,000 to be addressed to NewSat Limited (NewSat). The invoices were issued for purported financial and advisory services, however no such services were provided to NewSat.

Following the issuing of these invoices, NewSat made payments totaling $275,000 to the accounting and financial advisory firm at which Mr Cullen was employed, with NewSat receiving no benefit for the payment. Of the total paid by NewSat on these invoices, $245,000 was then transferred to Cresta Motor Yachts Pty Ltd, being a company for which Mr Cullen and Mr Adrian Ballintine, NewSat’s former chief executive officer, were directors.

Mr Cullen was convicted of two counts of contravening section 1308(2) of the Corporations Act and fined an amount of $7,500.

In delivering sentence, Judge Sarah Dawes said:

‘Mr Cullen held a position of trust and should be held accountable for providing misleading information. Offending of this nature undermines public confidence in the share market and public companies.’

ASIC Commissioner John Price said, ‘Making false and misleading statements is a serious offence and ASIC will take action when an accountant’s conduct falls short of required professional standards.’

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.

Background

NewSat was a satellite communications provider that was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange until 31 August 2015.

On 17 April 2015, receiver managers were appointed to NewSat, with the company entering into liquidation on7 August 2015.

Cresta Motor Yachts Pty Ltd was a Queensland company which was involved in the design, manufacture and distribution of luxury motor yachts. Mr Ballintine held 73% of the shares in Cresta in his own name and through a private company.

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