Victims of a $17.5 million Ponzi scheme are frustrated after sentencing of the Christchurch fraudster behind the con was delayed today for three months.
Paul Clifford Hibbs, 49, faces a stiff prison sentence after running two companies that took money from 16 different investors and their families, many of them elderly people that he had known for 20 years.
Through Cameron Gladstone Investments Limited and Hansa Limited, which Hibbs owned and operated, the investment adviser had "complete control" over his client funds.
From about 2008, the legitimate investment advisory business turned into a Ponzi scheme and Hibbs began giving false investment reports and misusing their money.
Christchurch District Court earlier heard that Hibbs used the money to pay other investors, pay himself dividends, put down deposits on apartments in Cambodia, and make transfers to companies he had interests in.
"Some of them have lost their entire life savings and, given their stage in life, are not in a position to recover the capital lost. The agreed loss is not less than $17.5m," the statement of facts says.
Hibbs earlier pleaded guilty to 25 representative charges of making false statements by a promoter, nine charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, three charges of using forged documents, and two counts of forgery.
He was remanded in custody until sentencing today.
The courtroom was packed with victims and their families expecting to witness Hibbs be jailed for a lengthy period. Hibbs' victims are protected by name suppression.
But their hopes were dashed when Judge Brian Callaghan took the bench this morning to say he was not in a position to sentence Hibbs today.
The judge said he'd only just received a substantial file and had not had enough time this morning to completely familiarise himself with the case or read counsel submissions.
Both Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh and defence counsel James Rapley agreed that in fairness to the victims, and Hibbs, that the judge was aware of the facts of the case before sentencing.
Victims shook their heads in disbelief as they were told sentencing would not go ahead today.
Judge Callaghan apologised to the victims, counsel and Hibbs, that it was not feasible to proceed.
Sentencing was adjourned until May 2.
SFO Director Julie Read said that if investors have doubts, a good option is to check the list of Authorised Financial Advisers on the Financial Markets Authority website.
"All financial advisers must comply with the requirements of the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Mr Hibbs was not registered," Read said.